God and His Lie of the Value of Animals
So why do people eat meat? “It tastes good” is the most citable answer but some people use the bible to back up their claims that animals are to be used as humans see fit. In Genesis 9:3:
“Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.”
Other lines seem ambivalent towards those who do not eat meat, and some make strange qualifications about what meat to eat and how. These are all antiquated and removed from the context of the bronze age, so perhaps we should create an ethic that is applicable to the modern world?
That people earnestly hide behind biblical lines like this to defend their claims about the soullessness or valueless of animals is beyond me. If you are convinced by the bible that animals are soulless or valueless, I have a question for you. How moral is leaving the consignment of billions of conscious lives devoid of anything possibly valuable every year to short, brutal, terrifying deaths, all on the basis of a couple of sentences in a book that is full of contradictions and non sequiturs to satiate our taste buds?
One could make the argument that this came about in a time when humans were dependent on calories from animals. That’s okay, but it’s quite strange for an almighty being to make environment-dependent claims about morality without acknowledgement of that fact. This is how we get crazy bible thumpers arguing about some dead and gone rule that was attached to some environmental factor that is equally dead and gone. The charge is on these religious types to provide tangible reasons why humans are put on a pedestal to use and abuse animals for whatever menial pleasure they see fit, and citing a soul won’t do. Shouldn’t we anchor our values in something we have evidence for? Like the subjective experience?
From Dust to Evolution
The only legitimate conception of humans being made by God left is that God made life and it evolved into humans–I would ever say that is unlikely. There is simply no evidence that humans sprung from dirt, but rather an apelike ancestor that cultivated our genes with their primitive behavior. With this in mind, that we emerged from our “animal” ancestors what makes us so different? Certainly I will not make the argument that all life is equally valuable. Rather, that the value we ascribe to ourselves is a tangible, physical thing we can name and that is shared to varying degrees by other animals. If you agree that humans are just a branch on the evolutionary tree, then your opinion of the lack of value of animals therefore gives warrant to any species whose faculties and experiences are greater than our own the right to exploit us in any way they see fit. There is no coherent argument to be made for eating meat if you have cheap alternatives, as nearly all Americans have–the end of my blog demonstrates this.
What do we Value in Consciousness?
Some may doubt that animals really experience a sense of self, and that is just false, as neuroscience can show. This video demonstrates the exact moment when one chimp recognizes a reflection to be herself, rather than a mimicking chimp. Studies show that chimps can remove stickers placed on their faces, unaware to them, by some dastardly chimp-anesthetizing lab-coated human using the help of a mirror.
Chimps can also display theory of mind, which emerges around age 3 in humans. How? Well, put a high-ranking chimp in a room where he can see a banana placed where he has access to it. Now put a lower-ranking chimp in a room where he also has access to the banana and can see the other chimp. So, the low-ranking chimp will be beaten out if he goes for the banana when the high-ranking chimp can see it, because high ranking chimps don’t share. Put a partition blocking the sight of the banana to the high-ranking chimp before placing in the banana and the low-ranking chimp will recognize the higher ranking chimp does not know the banana is there because he cannot see it. Thus, he will go for the banana only when the high-rank chimp does not know it is there. The logical power of recognizing that other agents posses different information than you.
Chimps can also recognize intent in that they will be more outraged if a dastardly lab-coated individual kicks over your tray of food on purpose, or on accident. Those grad student bastards!
And if you think these kinds of mental capacities are only attached to the primate branch of evolution, think again, corvids(birds) show a sense of self as well as dolphins. You as a human are special, but are you the only special thing in existence? Or to ever exist? If we are marking our value of conscious beings in these facts about the brain, then anything coming along, to include artificial intelligence, that’s farther along this spectrum of intelligence and experience than humans is therefore more valuable. Imagine robots citing their robo God’s unfailing, unaging, robo texts when they exploit humans for their thermal heat like batteries.
Value is a Spectrum
Now we have to base our own human value on something tangible. Why is murder bad? Is it that it causes pain? Or is it that it robs a human of the experience of self, consciousness, logical ability, or any future happiness? Humans are more important than animals because they have a wider ability to experience all of these qualities. On Earth humans possess the largest capacity to bring the most amount of conscious beings, to include animals, to a state we call happiness. As it stands, we are dragging billions of animals every year just in the U.S. into what we would call an unhappy, short life. Just for the fact they taste good. So, if we admit of the fact that evolution is a spectrum, that these qualities we value are on a spectrum that can be turned up or down, what grounds do we have to say that all lives BELOW our level of experience are only valuable to serve our mouth’s sensation? We don’t kill people who have mental impairments because they fall below the threshold of intelligence we value, or psychopaths because they cannot experience the same amount of pain or empathy; there has to be some value we ascribe to life generally because when we strip away the things we say we value there is some value remaining. There are many ways the lights can be on in a conscious creature, and they are not just on or just off just because they are dimmer than our lights.
We don’t Need to Eat Meat
It is no doubt that being able to eat meat and vegetables was a huge evolutionary benefit to humans in their early, brutish beginnings, and that eating meat for survival is a totally acceptable thing to do. But do Americans live in this situation any longer? No. Not to mention you can buy for $30 1,400 grams of whey protein. That’s a month’s supply of protein for a 190 lb. weightlifter when using it to supplement rice/beans and eggs. The RDA for protein if you do not workout is 0.8 gram per kilogram of body weight. There’s tons of studies showing no muscle gains past 1.6 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. Most Americans eat this amount DAILY and weigh less than 190 lbs. on average. Factor in that most Americans do not exercise every day and America is eating too much meat. So, it is not cheaper to eat meat, and we are eating too much of it, so we must concede that we do not need to eat meat. Leaving the only argument for our current consumption of meat to be for our taste buds.
Perhaps we can adopt doctrines in the future that will not consider life on the lower ends of the intelligence/consciousness spectrum as a tool to satiate taste buds. To be clear, brighter states of consciousness are more valuable than others, but when they can get along without extinguishing other conscious lights, they shouldn’t. As it stands most people’s thinking about the value of animals condemns us to be used and abused in the same way by any other more intelligent and conscious creature or AI.
Live by the fork, die by the fork.
Here’s hopping this AI is the one to dispatch me to satiate his circuits.