HOW SHOULD WE TREAT THE ANIMALS?
One of the most deeply held beliefs of mankind is that human beings are the absolute masters of the earth. In our society many of our practices impact on the lives of animals in a variety of ways. What is our duty as Adventist Christians to the animals around us? Is there any debt we owe to them or are we free to ignore the results of our actions? This presentation is an attempt to answer that question from the Word of God.
Developing Christ’s Character in Us
There is a text that we as Adventists are very familiar with. In Matthew 5:48, Jesus tells His disciples, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect.” Now this does not mean that we will be absolutely perfect as God is, but instead we need to have the same type of character as God. God’s motives, values, and way of dealing with us, as shown by the life of Christ, are to be our motives, values, and way of dealing with others. The importance of having this experience is found in Christ’s Object Lessons p. 69. “When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.”
Everything we do should be measured by what Christ would do in the same situation. The character we develop now will be taken unchanged into heaven, only the body will be made new. It doesn’t matter if a person dies and is resurrected or is among the final generation that lives to see His coming, all will take the character they’ve developed here straight to heaven. We are to make every effort to live on Earth as we will live in heaven. “Every right principle, every truth learned in an earthly school, will advance us just that much in the heavenly school.” (Maranatha p. 327) So it becomes our duty to discover the “right principles” that have been revealed to us to learn. We will focus on one of those principles here.
What God Meant By Dominion
We begin with one of the more famous texts of the Bible. I’ve found that virtually every Christian is familiar with it and so are many non--Christians. “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.” (Genesis 1:26) This is the text always used to show that whatever we do to the animal creation is acceptable and approved by God. It is the Divine mandate that justifies any action we choose. But are we completely sure that we have applied this verse correctly? What is the principle being given here? The answer to that question will determine how we apply that principle-the Dominion Principle-to our daily lives.
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.” (Colossians 1:16) Everything in this world has been created for Christ, including ourselves and everything around us. All of the animals were created for Christ. As Psalm 50:10-11 shows, God claims all animal life as His own. “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.” We cannot own what belongs to God; the most that we can be are caretakers. In Genesis Christ did not give us ownership of the animals, He gave us dominion.
So what does the word dominion really mean? To find out we need to understand
what it meant to the original writers and readers of the Bible. In 1 Kings
4:24-25 we have the same Hebrew word meaning dominion. "For he had dominion
over all the region on this side of the river..., over all the kings on this
side of the river: and he had peace on all sides round about him. And
He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment:. The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness. He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor. . . .He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth. In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.... For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper. He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy. He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight. And he shall live, and to him shall be given of the gold of
Sheba: prayer also shall he given unto him continually; and daily shall he be praised....His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed.
I’m sure we can all agree that any king behaving in this manner is doing everything as he should. He has dominion over his subjects and they praise him for it. He is blessed. This is a beautiful description of what dominion means to God. Yet there is more to it then that. Verses 4-8 are mentioned in Patriarchs and Prophets pp. 754-755 as a promise given to David which finds its complete fulfillment in Christ - Christ is to have dominion from sea to sea, from the river unto the ends of the earth. As David says in Psalm 103:19, "The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all." Jesus is our king! He has dominion over humans, just as we have dominion over animals. To understand how we should exercise our dominion we must first understand how He exercises His dominion over us. This is the Dominion Principle—God is over us in the same way that we are over the animals. If we can understand this principle we will have gone a long way to understanding our role in God’s creation.
We’ve seen in Psalms how Christ exercises His dominion. In Genesis 1:28-29 we see our dominion responsibility.
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. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
What was included in Adam’s dominion? One glaring thing not included is the eating of animals. Verse 29 makes that very clear. Adam’s duty is illuminated further in Genesis 2:15, “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and keep it.” Adam was the caretaker of Eden. He had a responsibility to it. It was a mutually beneficial system. Adam was the steward of God’s created works. He was God’s servant taking care of God’s creations. Adam’s dominion was no tyrannical, dictatorial, exploitation. This is the beauty of God’s dominion, that those He has dominion over praise Him for it. Doesn’t Adam’s dominion here sound a lot like the dominion described in Psalm 72? This is God’s dominion. This is how it is in Heaven, in Eden, and in the New Earth.
But like every other principle of God, Satan has a counterfeit. He has warped our concept of God’s dominion over us. God is believed to be a tyrant, a predestining God that chooses who will be saved and who will burn in hell. Satan sends natural disasters to wipe out homes and lives and has convinced us to call them acts of God. When children die of starvation and when friends die from disease or accidents we are told to lay the blame on God. All of this is Satan’s version of God’s dominion, and of course, there is Satan’s version of our dominion over the animals. Satan’s dominion vs. God’s dominion. To find out Satan’s dominion we should first discover God’s dominion. Whatever doesn’t belong in God’s dominion must fall into Satan dominion. If we are not following God’s plan we are following Satan’s plan.
The Principles of Taking Life
So what is God’s plan—God's dominion? Since sin entered the Earth we now have permission to kill animals. Our question then is: When is it acceptable to take an animal’s life? To answer that question we must first look at God’s example with us. When is it acceptable to take a human life? Under what circumstances does God allow or direct the taking of human life?
1) Capital punishment. Spelled out in the Old Testament is a detailed list of crimes that require the death penalty.
2) Self-defense. This applied not only to the individual but also when
3) God’s command.
These three categories cover the killing of humans allowed by God. Now we can discover when it is allowed to kill an animal. The first category for humans, capital punishment, does not apply to animals. Since animals cannot know the law of God, they are incapable of knowingly breaking it. So the categories for animals are as follows.
1) Self-defense. If an animal attacks a human it is acceptable to kill that particular animal. An obvious example of this is David and the lion. But this does not extend to an entire species, only to the individual animal involved. This is the same as with humans. Killing a human in self-defense does not mean we can kill that person’s relatives and friends.
2) God’s command. Two main areas are included in this. The first area is animal sacrifice. Immediately after sin God commanded sacrifice. In Leviticus they were structured and organized. All pointed to Christ’s sacrifice and were intended to bring home to man the horror of sin, the vileness of every act committed against God. But what God commands He also can change. When type met anti-type, the sacrificial system reached its completion and Jesus made it clear that all sacrifice was to end. So now one area where God commanded man to kill animals has been repealed.
The second area is the killing of animals for food. This started after the
flood in Genesis 9. But it is important to note that key restrictions
are given to Noah at the same time. The clean animals only are to
be eaten, as specifically listed in the Levitical law. But the more important
restriction is in verse 4. "But flesh with the life thereof, which is
the blood thereof, shall ye not eat" No blood was EVER to be
eaten! The Levitical law spelled it out in detail in Leviticus 17:10-14. Is
this command obeyed by anyone today other than orthodox Jews? Ezekiel 33:25-26
lists the eating of blood with idol worship, murder, and adultery as
Some people claim that this restriction was part of the ceremonial law done away with at Christ’s death, but as shown above, the prohibition against consuming any blood preceded the Levitical law by approximately 1000 years. It continued to be the rule for the growing Christian church after the death of Christ, and was stated in official church policy. “For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well.” (Acts 15:28-29) Paul reaffirms this policy in Acts 21:25. So, far from being abandoned at the cross, the divine mandate never to eat blood was continued as a vital aspect of the Christian life. It was only during the Middle Ages that apostate Christianity ignored this as they ignored so many other Bible teachings.
If the Christian basis for the permission to eat meat is from the Bible, then why don’t Christians follow the entire mandate? Obviously because bloodless meat is tasteless meat. All the flavor is in the blood. This suggests that the ability of the post-flood humans to eat animals is intended to be a necessity, not a pleasure. Ellen White confirms this in Counsels on Diet and Foods p. 373. On the same page she also gives a second reason for God’s allowing them to eat meat. “God saw that the ways of man were corrupt, . . . And He permitted that long-lived race to eat animal food to shorten their sinful lives. Soon after the flood the race began to rapidly decrease in size, and in length of years.” So in effect, it is a discipline for the race’s wickedness. Those today who argue for meat eating because the Bible allows it are, in effect, arguing for the opportunity to be disciplined and to have their lives shortened.
If meat eating was a necessity, that leads to the conclusion that when it
was no longer a necessity, it would no longer be done. Less advanced cultures
in all ages have had a justifiable need for meat, when better food was unavailable.
But does that apply to us today, in the
An Example from the Children of
An important example of God’s dealing with His people is recorded in the
books of Moses. Soon after the children of
Upon the ground lay a white substance that the people called manna. (verses 14-15) It was like nothing ever seen before and tasted like “wafers made with honey”. (verse 31) It appeared for them throughout their forty years of desert wanderings and was all the food they ever needed. God had given them a food beyond anyone’s imagination and it reminded them every day of His generosity. But something went wrong. For many the manna wasn’t enough.
God brought them to Mount Sinai and gave them His law and then led them on the way to the Promised Land. But during the journey the people began to complain again about having no meat. They cried out, "Who shall give us flesh to eat?...There is nothing at all, beside this manna." (Numbers 11:4-6) Imagine being ungrateful for something as wonderful as manna! God answered their complaints again by sending quail again but with one critical difference. "And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague." (verse 33) All those who ate the quail died.
Why the difference? In both cases the people complained the same way, the
same birds were sent for them by an unchanging God. So why were they punished
the second time? "The anger of the Lord was kindled greatly." (verse
10) Why? The only difference lies in the time frame. The first time was when
they had barely come out of
"And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent." (Acts 17:30) As Jesus said to the Pharisees in John 9:41, “If ye were blind, ye should have no sin.” Those who have seen the light of truth and reject it, are in a far worse state than those to whom the light has never come. As God gives light to His people, He expects them to utilize it. "After the flood meat eating was allowed because of the hardness of man’s heart." (Manuscript, Nov. 5, 1890) As we move into the twenty-first century, God has clearly spelled out a better way. Will we continue to harden our hearts to His will?
The Principles of Causing Suffering
The next question that we need to examine is: When is it acceptable to cause an animal to suffer? Again we first examine when we can cause a human to suffer.
1) Discipline. Spanking a child, locking up a thief, giving leprosy to Elisha’s servant, wandering 40 years in the wilderness, letting cause and effect run its course in all its myriad forms; all are forms of discipline.
2) To save life. An example is an operation that causes pain but saves the person’s life.
So then what about animals? But there are many in our society who say that the animals suffer much less than we do or not at all. Why would that be, we ask? Because they are different from us, is the answer given. But what really separates humans and animals? Ask an evolutionist that question 60 years ago and he would have glibly given a whole list of differences. Ask that same evolutionist that same question today and he’ll scratch his head and try desperately to come up with something-- indeed anything-- that separates humans and animals. Every difference they hold has crumbled in the face of modern discoveries of animal behavior. Tool use, modifying of the surroundings, existence of culture, language; all are now known to exist in animals. Ask a mainline Christian what the difference is and he’ll say that we have an immortal soul but animals don’t. Adventists have discarded the concept of the immortal soul but unfortunately the attitude toward animals that goes with it has been retained.
How was man created? “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul [Hebrew nephesh].” (Genesis 2:7) Take away the breath of life and man ceases to be a living soul. What about animals? “And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life.” (Genesis 7:15) So animals also have the breath of life. Does that mean they are living souls? “And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature [nephesh] that hath life...Let the earth bring forth the living creature [nephesh] after his kind.” (Genesis 1:20, 24) “And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air: and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature [nephesh], that was the name thereof.” (Genesis 2:19) “And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.” (Revelation 16:3) Just as man has the breath of life and therefore is a living soul, so do animals have the breath of life and therefore are living souls. They are identical to us in that respect!
The only defining difference that sets us apart from animals is having the image of God. That, in its most important aspect, means we have a conscience and can choose between right and wrong. That is the only thing we can claim that the animals do not have. That’s all!
But in terms of pain and suffering there is no difference! We feel pain because we are vertebrates with a nervous system, and all vertebrate animals have the same nervous system and capacity to feel pain. Our vertebra protects our spinal cord. From our spinal cord radiates nerves that lead to every part of our body. The free-nerve endings are what register pain, heat, and cold. All animals with a vertebra have a spinal cord and a nervous system like ours. Their free-nerve endings register pain, heat, and cold like ours do. Animals with a vertebra are divided into five groups: mammals (including humans), birds, reptiles, fish, and amphibians. ALL of these animals feel pain in the same way that we do.
Animals feel with emotions. Animals have intelligence. They think things out and make choices based on their experiences. Entire books have been written documenting cases of animal emotion and intelligence. I could write pages upon pages reciting examples of animals using their intelligence or showing their feelings. But I don’t need to, since there is clear inspiration proving the truth of it. As we look at The Ministry of Healing pp. 315—316, let us remember three questions. Do animals have intelligence? Do animals experience emotions? Do animals suffer?
The intelligence displayed by many dumb animals approaches so closely to human intelligence that it is a mystery. The animals see and hear and love and fear and suffer. They use their organs far more faithfully than many human beings use theirs. They manifest sympathy and tenderness toward their companions in suffering. Many animals show an affection for those who have charge of them, far superior to the affection shown by some of the human race. They form attachments for many which are not broken without great suffering to them.
Animals experience physical suffering (pain, heat, cold) and emotional suffering (loss, unhappiness, terror). So since we have shown that they suffer as we do, we can now go back and answer our question of when we can and when we cannot cause them to suffer.
As with taking life, causing suffering is the same as with humans.
1) Discipline. We use a leash to prevent the dog from chasing the neighbors. We spay and neuter dogs and cats to prevent them from hurting themselves or others. Where ducks gather to nest, we put electric fences around them to shock any fox out to eat the eggs. My grandfather raised many chickens over the years, and sometimes they got into the very bad habit of egg-eating. So he would fill a few eggs with extra strong hot sauce and put them out for the chickens to eat. Soon it was clear which chickens were egg-eaters and which weren’t. The innocent ones looked as they always did. But the guilty chickens were wandering around with a dazed look in their eyes, bills hanging open, panting. Very soon all the chickens were innocent of egg eating, for it was a discipline that worked very well.
2) To save life. Taking animals to a vet terrifies them, but it’s necessary. Giving them medicine or restricting their food also is sometimes important.
The Principles of Caring For Animals
We have looked at the principles that relate to what is permitted in our actions against animals. But what about our responsibility for them? “The merciful provisions of the law extended even to the lower animals, which cannot express in words their want and suffering.” (Desire of Ages p. 500) Mrs. White then quotes Exodus 23:4-5 and explains how that was meant to relieve the work-animal’s suffering.
The fourth commandment extends the day of rest to the work-animals. Other passages in the Levitical law also are directed at protecting the animals from abuse. "If a bird’s nest chance to be before thee…thou shalt not take the dam with the young: but thou shalt in any wise let the dam go, and take the young to thee; that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days.” (Deuteronomy 22:6, 7) Here we have guidelines setting limits on how many can be taken to keep them from being exterminated. “Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.” (Deuteronomy 22:10) This is designed to prevent the suffering caused by unequally yoking two different kinds of animals together; the differing size and strength make it difficult for both animals to function. “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.” (Deuteronomy 25:4) Paul shows that this is designed to ensure that the working animal is not deprived of his just reward for his labor. “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor....For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.” (I Timothy 5:17-18)
The verse that sums it up is Proverbs 12:10. “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” Mrs. White expands this in The Signs of the Times Nov. 25, 1880.
Here is a lesson to all who have reasoning powers, that harsh treatment, even to the brutes, is offensive to God. Those who profess to love God do not always consider that abuse to animals, or suffering brought upon them by neglect, is a sin. The fruits of divine grace will be as truly revealed in men by the manner in which they treat their beasts, as by their service in the house of God. Those who allow themselves to become impatient or enraged with their animals are not Christians. A man who is harsh, severe and domineering toward the lower animals, because he has them in his power, is both a coward and a tyrant. And he will, if opportunity offers, manifest the same cruel, overbearing spirit toward his wife and children.
If animals could speak, what deeds of horror would be revealed,—what tales of suffering, because of the perversity of man’s temper! How often those creatures of God’s care suffer pain, endure hunger and thirst, because they cannot make known their wants. And how often is it determined by the mercy or the caprice of man, whether they receive attention and kindness, or neglect and abuse. Punishment given in passion to an animal is frequently excessive, and is then absolute cruelty. Animals have a kind of dignity and self-respect, akin to that possessed by human beings. If abused, under the influence of blind passion, their spirits will be crushed, and they will become nervous, irritable, and ungovernable.
Why do we as Adventists promote vegetarianism? Is it only because it is healthier? If we think that the only reason to avoid meat is because of our own health, then we are ignoring a large section of Ellen White’s writings on this. She has as much to say about the cruelty to animals involved as any other reason. Even if meat was perfectly healthy, it would still be wrong because of the cruelty to animals. The following are only a few of her statements.
I might fill pages with descriptions of the sights I have seen, the suffering among the animals that are to he used for food. When a sheep in a flock lies down and cannot rise, the others leap over or upon it as they proceed. A large box wagon follows the flock, and I have seen the drivers take up the heavy sheep, when unable to travel farther, and bounce them into the wagon, right upon their backs. And I have counted no less than eight sheep, some already dead, and others in the agonies of death, lying by the roadside, after the flock had passed. But I will not go on to describe these sickening sights. If I had not, prior to this time, discarded the use of the flesh of dead animals, I should now take the pledge to eat no more meat as long as fruits and vegetables can be obtained. (Manuscript Releases Vol. 7, p. 423)
We saw a large herd of cattle in the road ahead of us.... Some animals had been wounded; some were limping along. One poor suffering creature had both horns broken off close to his head, and the blood was flowing from the wound. Some were very lame, and were pictures of brute misery. Taken from the green paddocks, and traveling for weary miles over the hot, dusty road, these poor creatures are driven to their death, that human beings may feast on their miserable dead carcasses. (Manuscript Releases Vol. 7, p. 421-422)Your wrong habits of eating have so educated your moral powers that you have not the spirit of a Christian. Your temper is perverse, and your treatment of dumb animals is wrong. (Manuscript Releases Vol. 3, p. 306)
Not an ounce of flesh meat should enter our stomachs. The eating of flesh is unnatural....Let them, rather, return to the wholesome and delicious food given to man in the beginning, and themselves practice...mercy toward the dumb creatures that God has made and has placed under our dominion....Will the people who are seeking to become holy, pure, refined, that they may be introduced into the society of heavenly angels, continue to take the life of God’s creatures, and enjoy their flesh as a luxury?...Many who are now only half converted on the question of meat eating will go from God’s people to walk no more with them....Think of the cruelty to animals that meat eating involves, and its effect on those who inflict and those who behold it. How it destroys the tenderness with which we should regard these creatures of God!...Animals are often transported long distances and subjected to great suffering in reaching a market. Taken from the green pastures and traveling for weary miles over the hot, dusty roads, or crowded onto filthy cars, feverish and exhausted, often for many hours deprived of food and water, the poor creatures are driven to their death, that human beings may feast on the carcasses... .Some animals are inhumanly treated while being brought to the slaughter. They are literally tortured, and after they have endured many hours of extreme suffering, are butchered. (Counsels on Diet and Foods pp. 380-386)
Treatment of Food Animals
In the century since Mrs. White wrote her strong statements condemning the way we use animals for food, we have developed a new way of raising animals called factory farming. The animals killed for food today are completely removed from the Old McDonald’s Farm of the past.
Factory farming is big business. Whatever is cost effective is the only consideration. Mass-produced chickens and turkeys are raised in warehouses. As they grow to full size they become a solid mass of birds with no space to spare. Far overcrowded, they literally rub each other raw. The weaker are trampled to death, disease spreads like wildfire, injured and diseased birds are left untreated until they die.
Pigs and many cows are kept in closed concrete stalls. They are fed whatever fattens them quickest, not what keeps them healthy. To prevent disease, they receive massive amounts of antibiotics, in the long run making them even more unhealthy. All end up being transported long distances unprotected from heat or cold. To save some money, they are not fed or watered on these trips. They are pushed, dragged, prodded, shocked, and beaten. Many fall and break legs or hips or are too sick to move. Those are called downers and are left where they lie to die, however long it takes. If the slaughterers get to them before they die, they attach chains to their legs and drag them to the kill floor. If the animals die first, they are used for pet food. God’s dominion or Satan’s dominion?
Most beef cattle and sheep are raised on open rangeland throughout the west.
Any animal that even remotely competes with them are considered vermin and
killed on sight. The ranching industry is directly responsible for
the eradication of scores of species, including eliminating grizzlies, condors,
wolverines, and wolves from most of the
We rake the oceans with fishing nets that kill everything in their paths:
fish, dolphins, whales, birds. 75% of the world’s fisheries are at the maximum
level of sustainable fishing. Any increase in the fish killed would cause
biological collapse; a chain reaction that leaves almost nothing left alive.
The other 25% of the fisheries are already in a state of biological
collapse. And when the fish disappear, we blame the animals--never ourselves.
The seals, dolphins, and sharks become our scapegoats and we wage war upon
them. Dolphins are rounded up in
Dairy cows are also confined extensively. Their life is a constant cycle
of being impregnated, giving birth, and having their day old calves taken
from them. The bond between mother and calf is as strong as in every other
large mammal, as a story of one mother cow in
Female dairy calves are sent back into the system; males are taken to veal stalls. There they are chained in a two foot wide box. They can stand up and lie down, stand up and lie down. Nothing more. They are fed a nutrient deficient diet to keep their flesh the right color. They are prevented from exercising to keep their muscles soft. For six months they are purposely kept anemic and sick, all to provide their flesh as a delicacy.
One of our Adventist colleges has a flyer promoting their Animal Science program. In it they tell about what a great career you can have running a dairy farm or cattle ranch, and how much money you can make doing it. There, in living color, is a picture of a student feeding a veal calf on the campus farm. Is this what we really want our colleges to be teaching at this time in Earth’s history?
Female dairy cows are so bloated by growth hormones and milk producing drugs that their bodies are far too large and easily break down or become infected. They are treated as living machines and are disposed of the same way.
I used to believe that since I ate no meat, I was free from causing cruelty. But I still ate eggs and was dismayed to learn how laying hens are treated. In cages two feet square, up to nine full size hens are jammed. They cannot spread a single wing. Their feathers are rubbed off, and soon they have open sores. In such crowds cannibalism becomes common, so every hen has her beak sliced off to cause her intense pain whenever she pecks at another. Of course, all the male chicks are immediately killed by the millions. The ammonia buildup in the warehouses from their droppings is so bad that workers must wear masks when they enter, but the hens are forced to breathe it twenty-four hours a day.
Wire floors are not good for chicken feet, and often their toes become enmeshed in the wire and they never free them again.... If they are near the food, they survive. Come slaughter time, when their egg-laying rate slows, they are so violently removed from their cages that often feet and partial legs can be found in the empty cages, still attached to the wire floor.
If you want to know what it is like to be an egg-laying hen, try this test. Get in a normal sized car in a closed garage and bring seven or eight other people with you. After everyone has squeezed in, roll up the windows, lock the doors, and never leave again for the next two years! That’s the life of a battery hen today. I have a simple equation that I use now whenever I’m tempted to have an egg. 1 egg = 22 hours. (22 hours is the average time between each egg laid by a battery hen.) 22 hours of absolute, unrelenting, misery of an innocent, helpless, suffering creation of God. One hard boiled egg = 22 hours. A couple fried = 44 hours. A large quiche or an omelet is worth days of suffering, all contained on one plate. God’s dominion or Satan’s dominion?
Sport Hunting and Fishing
For thousands of years, much of people’s food has been obtained by hunting
and fishing. But with modern farming, hunting is mainly for sport. There is
no stronger indictment of the way we treat animals than that we kill them
purely for fun and entertainment. “Satan’s hatred against God leads him to
hate every object of the Savior’s care. He seeks to mar the handiwork of God,
and he delights in destroying even the dumb creatures.” (Desire of Ages
pp. 356-357) A better definition of sport hunting and fishing could not be
written. Millions destroyed every year in the
And then there’s sport fishing—merely hunting for fish. Now remember, fish
are vertebrates with a nervous system that feels pain just like our nervous
system does. They don’t show it like other animals because we can’t hear the
sounds they make without special equipment. Fish have the same social lives
and emotional feelings as every other vertebrate. In
The fishhooks we use rip into their mouths with all the intensity that a nail would feel in our mouths. They use their mouth to examine their surroundings since they have no hands or paws. Often, hooked fish lose their ability to eat until the gaping wound heals. Fish lose their protective coat of mucus by being handled by humans. Without it they are susceptible to bacteria and waterlogged tissues, both of which can be fatal. Many fish are so exhausted from fighting the fisherman’s line that when released they go into shock for hours and are easily caught by predators. A Canadian study found that a hooked fish removed from the water for only 60 seconds has a 72% mortality rate. Those not thrown back slowly die by “drowning in air.” Sometimes it takes well over an hour. I have watched fish being skinned alive as they struggled! Our casual acceptance of cruelty to fish because they look and act differently from other animals is based largely on our emotional attachments to animals that seem more like us.
Now please understand that what I ‘m discussing here is not part of a political agenda or the regular environmental issues being discussed in our society. Many meat-eating, hunting, fishing environmentalists would he quite unhappy by the subjects I’m discussing.
We must examine each of our practices with animals to see if we are following God’s dominion or Satan’s dominion and take steps to change things if wrong is being done. Mrs. White had much to say about the North’s responsibility for the Civil War. “God is punishing the North, that they have so long suffered the accursed sin of slavery to exist.” (Testimonies Vol.1 p. 359) God holds us responsible if we allow wrong to continue by our silence and apathy. To say it’s not our problem is to shirk our God-given duty.
Animals in the Entertainment Industry
Animals are abused on a continual basis to provide us with entertainment. Circus animals travel most of the year in tiny cages, unprotected from the weather. Look at any major circus and virtually every animal there has been or is being abused. There are blood sports such as bullfighting and cockfighting, whose only aim is to kill the animals painfully. Even such a tradition as rodeo involves broken bones, pain, fear, and death as a matter of course. Greyhounds are taught to race using live rabbits hanging from the end of a pole. Thousands of rabbits per year are killed to train greyhounds. Of course, those greyhounds not fast enough are also killed, often in secret. Is abusing animals for entertainment God’s dominion or Satan’s dominion?
The brutality and bloodshed that occur at rattlesnake roundups are almost too gruesome to describe. Gasoline is poured into rattlesnake dens and burrows to force them out. Many never recover from being so poisoned and many animals that share those burrows, such as the Gopher Tortoise, are also poisoned as well as having their homes ruined. The Gopher Tortoise is nearing extinction, in part due to this rattlesnake gassing. Every conceivable torture is inflicted on the rattlesnakes ripped from their wild homes. No protection or mercy of any kind is allowed for an animal so vilified by society. They are burned, beheaded, crushed, blinded, stabbed, maimed, beaten, skinned, and eventually eaten in a carnival-type atmosphere. And they feel and suffer as much as every other animal would in the same situation
Animals We Wear
Mammals used for fur are killed in two ways. First are those raised on farms such as mink, foxes, and chinchillas. They spend their short miserable lives crowded into wire cages unprotected from the weather until they are killed by electrocution, strychnine, gas, or having their necks broken. Second are those caught in the wild with leg-hold traps. Traps catch anything that touches them: pet dogs and cats, songbirds, deer. For every fur animal caught in a trap, two so-called “trash animals” are killed by the trap and thrown away. Animals caught remain for hours or days until the trapper returns. Some chew off their leg and bleed to death elsewhere. The returning trapper does not want to damage the pelt, so they club, crush, or stomp the trapped animal to death.
Around the world most cat species are now endangered due to the fur industry. Seals and kangaroos are slaughtered endlessly. All of this bloodshed for fur-lined gloves, jacket trim, coats, knickknacks, and trivial souvenirs. Alligator shoes, snakeskin belts, bearskin rugs, ostrich skin wallets. Eight million fur-bearers, plus five million non-target “trash” animals killed every year for nothing at all but fashion and appearance. God’s dominion or Satan’s dominion?
Our Companion Animals
We lavish millions of dollars on our pets, give them the best of attention and love, until we grow tired of them. If they become inconvenient or too expensive, then we dispose of them. Some people “set them free” at campgrounds, rest areas, in forest and town. Hardly any survive. Most die from disease, starvation, and being hit by cars. Those that live eke out a slim living. I once found a pair of skin-and-bone hunting dogs in a national forest that gorged themselves on the cat food we put out for them.
For every human born in this country 15 dogs and 45 cats are born and there’s nowhere for them to go! So we leave them at pounds and that’s where most die. Roughly ten million companion animals are “put to sleep” every year. That works out to something like every five seconds, all because we will not take the effort to spay and neuter the pets in our care and because we allow animal-breeding puppy mills to continue to exist. Are we fulfilling our God given duty of stewardship toward our most loyal friends?
Parrots are being driven to the brink of extinction to supply the illegal pet trade. On their way to us, nine out of ten die—90%! Those that survive end up as living curios, stuck in a cage for their color and beauty. Many live as long as we do, 80 to 90 years, forever cut off from the life they should be living.
Tropical fish are caught with cyanide, again up to 90% dying on route to pet stores. But in addition the coral reef and any non-target animals are left dead from the cyanide, all again so that they can end up in tiny tanks for our amusement.
Experimenting On Animals for Science
In the past it has been taught that the best way to learn about human anatomy and the theory of evolution was to dissect other species such as frogs and cats. But modern advances in computer programs and detailed human models have made such studies obsolete. Because of dissection, many wild populations of frogs have been wiped out, and it is not uncommon for lost or stolen dogs and cats to end up on a classroom table. We must not devalue life by killing just because it’s convenient. We should teach the most important lesson of all, the respect for life.
One area we need to examine is whether we can cause animal suffering to save human life. This is an important subject and needs careful thought. Is experimentation on animals a justified practice? First we need to note that we experiment all the time on humans to test new products. They are called clinical tests and they involve only volunteers. We must always remember that animals in tests are never volunteers, they have no choice. So we must strive very hard to limit such tests to only the absolutely crucial. We cannot cause their suffering for trivial, repetitive, or useless tests. We must examine animal research on a case-by-case basis to determine its worth. Let us examine some examples.
One major area of animal research is cosmetic testing. Dozens of rabbits per test are enclosed in metal boxes with only their heads protruding. Then various substances are poured into their eyes to see how much damage is done. Go into your bathroom or laundry and try to find any product that hasn’t been tested in this way. It can’t be done. Bleach, hairspray, shampoo, mascara, and detergent are all being used to blind rabbits in pointless tests. Other animals are force-fed large quantities of toothpaste, lipstick, or creams until half the animals succumb to convulsions, paralysis, and death. Others have chemicals applied to their bare skin, causing massive chemical burns, to measure skin irritancy levels.
The companies that continue these tests say that it is for public safety and because the tests are required by law. THAT IS A LIE! No law requires it and 500 plus companies that never test on animals prove it. Avon, Revlon, Paul Mitchell are only a few examples of the hundreds of companies that do not test on animals. Results of cosmetic tests are only valid on the animal species they were performed on. To help humans, tests would need to show the exact amount of the substance required to injure a human--which these tests never show. Every time we buy a product from a company that tests on animals, such as Procter and Gamble, we are saying to them, “It’s all right to do this. You don’t need to change. Here’s some more money to blind rabbits.”
We are making it possible for the suffering to continue by our buying choices. Modern alternative tests that do not use animals and are as accurate as or better than animal tests are readily available, but companies will not switch until we force them to by our wallet.
Another vast area of animal research involves psychology tests. These are done with the stated purpose of discovering how the animals think, learn, and develop. They are not intended to show anything about humans, except to evolutionists wanting to show how our behavior evolved from monkey behavior. Endless tests are done on every variety of animal to find out how they react to punishment, such as electric shock. Finding out how dogs suffer from electric shock and the lengths they will go to avoid it, does not in any way benefit humans, and it certainly is not a benefit for dogs.
Young monkeys are placed in smooth-walled “wells of despair" for days, weeks, and months at a time. They have no light, no interaction, nothing to touch or feel for the entire time. The point is to see how they react socially after their isolation. Not surprisingly, they are severely psychologically damaged, spending the rest of their life huddling in corners, arms held around their bodies, terrified of everyone and everything.
As sad a case as any are the monkeys taken from their mothers at birth and given to fake mothers that look and feel like monkeys but that act very differently. Designed to be monsters, these fake mothers become red hot or ice cold, eject compressed air, or hurl the baby away from them. Others eject sharp brass spikes from every surface of their body, impaling any baby that won’t let go. The terrified monkeys have no real mother to turn to, nowhere to go. They wait for their “mother” to stop hurting them and then crawl back onto it, until the next time their “mother” becomes a monster. All monkeys raised like this are forever mentally unstable and are unable to interact with normal monkeys. Their lives become constant isolation and fear. God’s dominion or Satan’s dominion?
The researcher who conducted these tests also was the editor of a magazine that published psychology test results. Over the years he reviewed thousands of tests to decide which should be published. He made a very interesting comment about the tests he reviewed. “Most experiments are not worth doing and the data attained are not worth publishing.” A telling comment from a defender of all research.
The unfortunate reality is that most tests done have been done before. Tests done over a hundred years ago are still being done with only minor variations and nothing new being learned. There is such a mind-numbing mountain of tests conducted that no researcher is able to keep up on what has been done before. Many researchers come up with new variations to ensure a continued flow of grant money, not because anything important will be discovered.
If a test benefits human life then we can understand its value, but what about tests that are incapable of helping humans in any way? A famous series of tests have been performed by Dr. Robert White, a vocal spokesman for unrestricted, unlimited animal tests. His tests involve cutting off the heads of monkeys and switching them; transplanting heads on still-living beings and keeping them alive. Can humans in any way benefit from head transplanting? The only one I can think of is Frankenstein.
One final area that I’ll mention is the area of drug testing. Surely we would think it would be necessary to test a drug on an animal first to make sure that it is safe. A government study was conducted on every new drug marketed between 1976-1985. The study found that half of those drugs had been relabeled or withdrawn because they were found to be more dangerous on people than the animal tests had shown.
In this country we use 40,000 different pesticides. Every single one
has been proven safe using animal tests. Does anyone really believe
that all 40,000 are safe? One pesticide (no longer used in the
Animal research can often be used as a “wax nose” to prove whatever the researcher wishes. Government agencies, by using animal tests, have been proving for years that cigarettes are addictive and harmful. Meanwhile tobacco-run animal tests have been proving for years that cigarettes are not addictive or harmful. And these tests continue to this day, “proving” whatever the researcher wants them to prove.
But how can this be? How can the results be so different between humans and animals? The reality is that every species is a different biological and biochemical entity. Each reacts differently to any given substance. Aspirin kills cats and penicillin kills guinea pigs. When the discoverers of penicillin were testing it they had just run out of guinea pigs and had to use other animals. If they had tested it on guinea pigs it would have been fatal and they would not have known the effectiveness of penicillin at all. But the same guinea pigs can safely eat strychnine, one of the deadliest poisons for humans, but not for monkeys. Sheep can swallow enormous quantities of arsenic. Potassium cyanide, deadly for humans, is harmless for the owl. Insulin produces deformities in infant rabbits and mice. A dose of opium that would kill a man is harmless to dogs and chickens. These are only a fraction of such examples. A list of this type is virtually endless, as every substance used will have different results on different species and even between strains of the same species.
About thirty or forty years ago some scientists thought there might be promise in an extract from the bark of the Pacific Yew tree in treating cancer. So they infected healthy animals with cancer and then used the extract to treat them. No result occurred. There was no improvement. The scientists decided the extract was useless and abandoned it. Now the Pacific Yew is a small, scraggly, understory tree that only grows in the Pacific Northwest. Lumbermen dislike it because it is worthless for timber, and they usually cut and burn it. A decade ago scientists decided to try again with the Yew extract, but this time they used clinical human tests instead of animals. The results were astonishing. The extract was extremely effective on certain forms of cancer. In fact it was the most promising treatment to come along in ages. But now there was a serious problem. For thirty years lumberman had been wastefully destroying Yews as a "trash tree". It was now hard to find enough Yew trees to provide the extract. So two drastic consequences resulted from our faith in animal testing. First, the treatment of cancer patients was delayed for three decades. Second, for all that time the main source of the treatment was allowed to be foolishly destroyed instead of being utilized. How many other life saving drugs have been lost to us in this way?!
In this Yew case, our reliance upon animal tests has actually cost
human life. We must ask ourselves if the cases of vivisection we have looked
at (and many others) truly save human life, and if not then why are they allowed
to continue? Roughly one hundred million (100,000,000) animals suffer and
are killed every year in
Chimpanzees are infected with the HIV virus. They can’t get AIDS, of course, no matter what we try. But once infected they can never be let out of their cage or have any contact with humans or other chimps. They are a carrier. They spend their entire lives in a cell the size of a closet. They can live that way for forty to fifty years. All alone, in the dark. Sitting in there with nothing to do, they slowly go insane. Rocking back and forth, circling endlessly, biting their hands and feet, banging their head on the wall, they are living death, and a live testament of our treatment of animals.
Reforming Our Attitude Toward Animals
We need a new perception of the other animals from that which we have inherited. We lavish attention, time, and money on our cats and dogs. Pets are wonderful. Everyone loves kittens and puppies. But beyond them things change. Cows and chickens are for eating. That’s what God made them for. Ducks and moose are here to be hunted. The only possible purpose of a fish is to be impaled on a hook. All predators are pure evil and must be eradicated. The only good snake is a dead snake. We think animals are beautiful in pictures and nature films, but let them do anything that causes us the slightest inconvenience and the first solution proposed is to kill them.
We marvel at the colors on a butterfly and unthinkingly squash every moth we can find, when in reality moths are virtually identical to butterflies. For woe unto any animal that doesn’t meet with our standard of beauty. Everyone “knows” all about bats and spiders, octopuses and snakes. They are ugly so they must be bad. The reality is that most people know next to nothing about such animals and what they do know is 95% nonsense. Test yourself, true or false? Bats fly into people’s hair. Bats suck blood. Tarantulas swarm onto people, biting them to death. Snakes leap out of trees to strangle people. Octopuses pull swimmers down to their death. And all the answers are...false All false, as are hundreds of other stories that I’m sure we’re all familiar with. Stories created hundreds of years ago to scare people are passed on as gospel truth from generation to generation. Until we throw away the myths, we will never appreciate animals for what they really are—living, breathing, feeling creations of God, with their own lives and purposes in God’s plan. We may not understand that purpose, and it may in fact have nothing to do with us, but that in no way negates the importance of it.
As an illustration of our thoughtlessness in caring for the animal creation entrusted to our dominion, we need only look to the list of animals threatened with extinction. That list has grown over the years until it includes over a thousand animal species. This does not include the hundreds of species that have already become extinct in the last five hundred years. And once they are gone, we can never get them back, no matter how much we may want to.
Are There Any Solutions?
The question has often been asked, “These are terrible things being done to the animals, but what can we do about it?” We often feel helpless to stop wrongs being done, but we actually have more influence than we realize. In this presentation, I have very carefully chosen only those issues that we in this country can alter by our actions. There are three steps that we can all take to save the lives of animals.
1) Never directly cause an animal to die. Hunting and fishing are obvious but just as deadly are meat and fur. Every time we buy any fur or ivory or meat, we directly cause animals to die. Don’t kill that snake. It’s not out to get you. There is never any justification to ever kill any non-venomous snake in North America, and only in the most unusual and extreme cases should venomous ones be killed. They are vitally important to the ecosystem and only use their venom for two reasons: to catch food and to defend themselves. Leave them alone and they will leave you alone. Find non-lethal solutions to animals in your yard that annoy you. Whole books are available detailing how to deal with backyard animals humanely. Death should never be the first option.
2) Never indirectly cause an animal to die. By buying milk and eggs, cosmetics and toothpaste tested on animals, or animals from a pet store, we allow and fund the suffering and death of animals to continue. When we visit places like circuses and marine parks that exploit and abuse animals, we make it profitable for them to exist. Most animal abuse exists only because it is profitable. When people stop giving money to the abusers, the suffering and death will stop. And don’t say that you’re only one person and can’t have any impact. A vegetarian saves the lives of hundreds of animals by his food choices. As with spreading the gospel, our task is to help save the individual, not to look at the unsaved billions and give up.
3) Educate others of what is going on. Tell your family and friends what you’ve learned here. Express how much these things bother you. Vivisection exists only because the majority of people are unaware of what is happening. Abuse thrives on secrecy.
If we would adopt these three steps, we would save countless lives. We as individuals can make a difference, if we will only make the effort. It is our duty and responsibility as God’s caretakers of His creation.
As long as we allow and/or participate in practices that hurt animals we will forever come short of Christ’s admonition in Matthew 5:48. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect.” We cannot have the character of God when we are tainted with such cruelty. We, as followers of Christ, are to be an example to the world and universe of His law working in His people’s lives. When we fulfill the Dominion Principle we will have taken one more step toward that goal.
In this presentation I’ve shown our responsibility to animals and the ways in which we’ve mishandled it. I very much condensed what could have been said, since books have been written on virtually every subject mentioned. But it can be summed up further yet in one brief passage by Ellen White. Everything I’ve talked about today is embraced in it.
Balaam had given evidence of the spirit that controlled him, by his treatment of his beast. “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” Proverbs 12:10. Few realize as they should the sinfulness of abusing animals or leaving them to suffer from neglect. He who created man made the lower animals also, and “His tender mercies are over all His works.” Psalm 145:9. The animals were created to serve man, but he has no right to cause them pain by harsh treatment or cruel exaction.
It is because of man’s sin that "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth together." Romans 8:22. Suffering and death were thus entailed, not only upon the human race, but upon the animals. Surely, then, it becomes man to seek to lighten, instead of increasing, the weight of suffering which his transgression has brought upon God’s creatures. He who will abuse animals because he has them in his power is both a coward and a tyrant. A disposition to cause pain, whether to our fellow men or to the brute creation is satanic. Many do not realize that their cruelty will ever be known, because the poor dumb animals cannot reveal it. But could the eyes of these men be opened, as were those of Balaam, they would see an angel of God standing as a witness, to testify against them in the courts above. A record goes up to heaven, and a day is coming when judgment will be pronounced against those who abuse God’s creatures. (Patriarchs and Prophets pp. 442-443)