The following article will address these questions, and attempt to answer them.
After helping Jwfacts with his page on Animal Suffering, I decided to write this article.
It is mainly aimed at helping Jehovahs Witnesses and other believers in God to think about the issue, as well as the apparent contradictions in Watchtower teaching.
Thanks must go to Jwfacts for the encouragement, and giving me permission to use an image from his page and to use some of the quotes.
Also, thankyou to Cofty for general moral support.
Please let me know what you think everybody, and feel free to reproduce any part or all of the article on any other website, just post and let me know that you've used it on your site please.
(I'd appreciate it if anyone could post to tell me they found a point in here useful, it would encourage me to keep going).
Okay, here it is:
Why does God allow Animal Suffering?
Does it trouble you to see animals in pain?
Would you try to prevent an animal from suffering, wherever possible?
Many people have concern for animals, and want them to be well cared for.
When they see an animal that is suffering in some way, perhaps dying of disease or starving to death, they feel obligated to act.
Wouldn't a God that had concern for animals feel the same way about an animal that is suffering?
According to the Watchtower, God cares about animals, has concern for them as many people do, and he also has limitless power.
'The righteous person’s concern for his animals finds precedent in God’s own care for them as part of his creation.'
'Jehovah told Abraham: “I am God Almighty.” (Genesis 17:1) His power is matchless, limitless, and inexhaustible.'
Imagine you are now looking at an animal (perhaps a dog or cat) that has been run over and is still alive.
Hopefully you would not leave it to lay there and die in pain. You would likely try to get it to the nearest vet, or help in some way.
A loving and caring person would do something, as long as they had the necessary resources and abilities to act.
So why would a loving God with limitless power allow animals to suffer?
Although the Watchtower has never directly addressed this topic of why God allows animals to suffer, the overall tone of the following article suggests that animal suffering can all be blamed on mankind.
(The article is filled with misleading and unsupported statements, but you may not realise this at first glance. If you don't have time to read the whole of it, here are some quotes that make it clear where Watchtower tries to suggest humans are to blame for animal suffering).
The Bible’s Viewpoint - Does God Care About Animals?
'ANIMAL life is in peril. Many scientists believe extinction of animal species is taking place at an accelerated rate. Animals are suffering the devastating consequences of human encroachment. Industrial food production, cruel blood sports, and callous abandonment of pets add to this grim picture.
Some feel, however, that such a picture is the inevitable price of human progress. But is that what God intended? Has he abandoned animal creation to suffer at the hands of humans?'
'Sadly, Adam rebelled against his Creator. His rebellion brought devastating consequences to the human family and to all life on earth.'
Other religions have also tried to blame mankind for animal suffering, based on scriptures such as Romans 8:19-22.
"For the creation is waiting with eager expectation for the revealing of the sons of God.
For the creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will, but through the one who subjected it, on the basis of hope that the creation itself will also be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God.
For we know that all creation keeps on groaning together and being in pain together until now."
Some teach that it was Adam who subjected all life on earth to corruption, which left animals with this futile existence of pain, suffering and inevitable death.
This teaching would allow for the possibility that if Adam had not sinned, animals could have lived differently, perhaps without suffering.
The Watchtower rejects that interpretation, as shown in the following article that discusses Romans 8:19-22.
(Note: the old NWT rendered the word corruption as futility)
'Who subjected the creation to futility?...Only Jehovah could. Clearly, then, it was he who subjected creation to futility.
What, though, is “all creation” referred to in this passage? Some say that “all creation” refers to the entire natural world, including animals and vegetation...“All creation,” then, can refer only to mankind.'
So the Watchtower teaches that only humans will be freed from corruption, or futility.
They teach that animals will all experience the same futile existence, Adam's sin did not change their lives to become futile because it has always been that way for them.
Therefore animals have always had a short existence, suffered and died.
As the same article states further down about a short painful existence followed by death, life for many animals is "futility indeed!".
Contrary to their implication that mankind is responsible for animals suffering and going extinct, (from the article The Bible’s Viewpoint Does God Care About Animals?) Watchtower admits that animals have always died, even to the point of extinction.
'Man’s disobedience in Eden did not bring death to animals—they had been living and dying and many forms becoming extinct for thousands of years before man’s creation. … The status of the beast has remained unchanged since its creation—it lives out its life span and dies. At no time has it had set before it the prospect of eternal life.' Watchtower 1950 Oct 15 p.399
So mankind cannot be blamed for all animal suffering and extinction.
God designed the earth and all the things that are on it, according to Watchtower.
They teach that God did not use or allow evolution.
'Did God Use Evolution to Create Life?
Today, most prominent “Christian” religious groups seem willing to accept that God must have used evolution in some way to create life. Some teach that God preprogrammed the universe to develop in such a way that living things inevitably evolved from lifeless chemicals and eventually produced mankind. Those who subscribe to this teaching, known as theistic evolution, do not feel that God interfered with the process once it started. Others think that, in general, God allowed evolution to produce most families of plants and animals but occasionally stepped in to move the process along.
...Evolutionary theory and the teachings of Christ are incompatible.To undermine belief in the creation account in Genesis is to undermine the very foundations of the Christian faith. Any attempt to marry these beliefs can only give birth to a weak faith...'
Therefore, Watchtower teaches that God designed each and every part of the natural world, right from the beginning.
Take an honest look at nature.
Even animals in the wild suffer, and this has nothing to do with mankind or Adam's sin.
Wild-animal suffering is defined as: "the suffering experienced by animals in nature through causes such as disease, injury, starvation, natural disasters, and killings by other animals."
This kind of suffering is a part of the natural world. Animals suffer and die every day.
If God designed the natural world, then he is responsible for how it works.
This would necessarily include predators, dangerous parasites, and every other part of nature that causes pain and death in an infinite variety of ways.
Watchtower also teaches that he is a loving God.
So why does God allow animals to suffer?
Why did he design the natural world to include death by predators, poisonous plants, injuries and diseases?
No comment has been made in Watchtower publications to answer these questions.
For some reason, the Watchtower has only ever written about why God allows people to suffer.
Watchtower teaches that God allows humans to suffer and die because of Adam's sin. Watchtower publications say that both death and suffering are only a part of life for humankind because of Adam's rebellion.
'...it was only because of [Adam's] rebellion against God that he came into “enslavement to corruption” and passed this condition on to all of his offspring, the human race. (Ro 8:20-22) This enslavement to corruption...produces bodily imperfection that leads to degradation, disease, aging, and death.'
Animals have been experiencing degradation, disease, aging and death since their existence began.
Yet animals have never sinned.
They did not 'rebel against God', yet they have to suffer and die.
Mankind's sin, and the subsequent punishment of suffering and death, does not explain why a loving God allows animals to suffer, or why he allows them to die painfully and sometimes slowly.
(Some may object here, that animals must die for the earth's ecology to function properly. Whether they have to die at some point is not the issue here, the animal's suffering is the issue. Still, I will discuss the necessity of animal death, also the nature of animal death in the wild, later in the article.)
Do animals suffer?
The short answer is yes.
The basic definition of suffering is 'physical or emotional pain', for a human or an animal. It is a state that is opposite to pleasure and happiness.
Many animals definitely can suffer, and it's possible they can even suffer more than we are currently aware of.
New discoveries are being made all the time.
We could excuse some of our treatment of animals in the past, when we may unknowingly have caused animals to suffer by our mistreatment of them.
We lacked scientific knowledge of animal biology, the pain they can experience.
Today, we know that animals do feel pain.
All mammals can suffer.
Birds, amphibians and reptiles may also suffer to some extent.
According to the U.S. National Research Council Committee on Recognition and Alleviation of Pain in Laboratory Animals, pain is experienced by many animal species, including mammals and possibly all vertebrates.
Even some invertebrates can suffer.
Since September 2010, all cephalopods being used for scientific purposes in the EU are protected by EU Directive 2010/63/EU which states
"...there is scientific evidence of their [cephalopods] ability to experience pain, suffering, distress and lasting harm."
Directive 2010/63/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council.
Even without taking the time to read scientific research, if you’ve ever accidentally stepped on a dog’s toes or tail, or seen an animal when they are attacked or run over by a car, you can tell that they are capable of experiencing pain.
Animals are capable of suffering.
To deny this fact would seem to be foolish and potentially dangerous to animals.
It's a fact that is supported by scientific evidence, and is at the core of all laws that protect animals from cruelty.
Animals can suffer from being hurt, neglected or mistreated.
Animal cruelty is defined as causing unnecessary pain and suffering.
If you believe that animal cruelty should be prevented, then you accept that animals suffer.
It's that simple.
During one of his talks, Professor Bernard Rollin facetiously recommended that anyone who denies animals feel pain, should test their hypothesis by using a pair of vice grips to squeeze the balls of a large doberman.
Even the Watchtower admits that animals can experience emotional suffering.
'Many people are very close to their pets, such as dogs and cats. What about wild animals, though? One report says: “Scientists who have lived closely with beasts and studied them have found that all mammals are emotional.”
Of course, we see animals become frightened or ferocious when they are threatened, but are they capable of what some might describe as tender feelings? The report continues: “It is in the raising of their young that mammals reveal their greatest attribute—their tremendous capacity for warm affection.''
Unless they are teaching something that is untrue, Watchtower states animals are capable of fear, and even warm affection. By quoting that report on mammals to support their views, they tacitly admit that all mammals experience tender feelings, such as affection for their young.
Do some animals experience emotions, as Watchtower says?
That being the case, why does God allow them to suffer?
What Is Responsible for Animal Suffering- God's Design, or Evolution?
Many people have come to the conclusion that all life on earth evolved gradually over millions of years, without an intelligent designer. Everything we see today is purely the product of evolution, with no input or guidance from any God.
Pain, suffering and the death of animals would clearly be a part of this natural process.
No moral justification or further questions are needed upon reaching this conclusion.
If there's no God, there's obviously no need to ask why God lets animals suffer.
Natural selection brought us all to where we are today, both human and animals.
Other people believe that God designed both humans and animals to live a short time on this earth, followed by some kind of resurrection or afterlife in heaven.
Based on their belief in a God that cares for and loves all of his creatures, they may reason:
"Many animals suffer and die having lived only a short time, but surely they must receive some kind of an afterlife?"
This belief brings comfort to many people, which anyone who has lost a beloved pet, or found some poor animal dying in a terrible state can surely understand.
Our minds cannot seem to comprehend why such innocent creatures can have their lives painfully cut short, without any sin or fault on the part of the animal.
The innocent do not deserve to suffer.
Animals being given an afterlife would be a merciful act, a kind act from a God that supposedly cares about all life on earth.
Surely if he was responsible for creating animals, he should have concern for them?
That is the impression that the Watchtower sometimes tries to give:
'The Bible inculcates just and merciful treatment of the lower creatures. Indeed, Jehovah represents himself as the Loving Provider for their lives and well-being.(Pr 12:10; Ps 145:15, 16)'
The Watchtower teaches that God's original purpose has always been for humans to live forever on the earth, without the suffering and death that comes as the inevitable result of the ageing process.
Yet the Watchtower also teaches that animals would never have experienced such an existence, regardless of whether Adam had sinned or not.
'The status of the beast has remained unchanged since its creation—it lives out its life span and dies. At no time has it had set before it the prospect of eternal life.' Watchtower 1950 Oct 15 p.399
Natural death of old age is not quick and painless. Humans or animals do not die instantly of old age. During the ageing process organs degenerate, and it is the failure of a specific bodily function that is the cause of death at old age. Often during this process, the dying animal is abandoned by its group, and they will die alone and in pain in the wild.
Another part of the natural world that causes suffering is disease.
Disease existed long before Adam and Eve sinned.
This ancient fossil of a Russellosaurine Mosasaur tail bone infected with arthritis is just one example showing disease existed prior to the sin of Adam and Eve.
The following articles discuss the recent discovery that millions of years before Adamic sin, even the dinosaurs suffered with various types of disease.
This one mentions Bone Infection (Osteomyelitis) being common:
Most pathologies preserved in theropod fossils are the remains of injuries, but some provide evidence of infections or congenital deformities.
Here are some examples:
Animal suffering pre-dates the time when Adam and Eve existed by millions of years.
Even in the Garden of Eden, animal ageing and death was inevitable.
“Adam understood what death meant, since he would have seen animals die.” Awake! Oct 2007 p.28
Animals were also being violently killed by predators long before humankind even existed.
There are even animals that are clearly adapted (or designed, if you prefer) to function as predators, or as prey.
Mankind's sin cannot be used as the reason for God allowing animals to suffer painful death by predators, or to suffer disease.
From the point of view of those who believe God designed all things on earth, some would rightly ask how a loving God could create animal species that have been designed to hunt and tear apart their prey, or to poison and crush other animals to death.
For example the anaconda and the cobra, if they were designed, were built to kill.
The cobra is just one type of snake equipped with lethal poison, and the anaconda constricts other animals to death before swallowing them whole.
An in depth study of nature reveals reveals countless killing and defense mechanisms built into the natural world.
The entire cat family are obligate carnivores.
Their bodies are so well adapted to being predators, that they make excellent hunters and killers.
They must eat meat to stay alive. They are born with hunting instincts.
Could they have evolved to be such well adapted carnivores, with inbuilt hunting instincts?
The Watchtower teaches that God designed them that way in the beginning, and they have barely altered at all, animals are the same as they were from the beginning right down until today.
Insight - KIND
'The creation record found in the first chapter of Genesis reveals that Jehovah God created earth’s living things “according to their kinds.” (Ge 1:11)
From the earliest human record until now, the evidence is that dogs are still dogs, cats continue to be cats, and elephants have been and will always be elephants.
Modern research has indicated that hundreds of thousands of different plants are members of the same family. Similarly, in the animal kingdom, there may be many varieties of cats, all belonging to one cat family or feline “kind.”
..Geological research provides clear evidence that the fossils held to be among the earliest specimens of a certain creature are very similar to their descendants alive today.
Cockroaches found among the supposed earliest fossil insects are virtually identical to modern ones.
Horses, oak trees, eagles, elephants, walnuts, ferns, and so forth, all continue within the same “kinds” without evolving into other “kinds.” The testimony of the fossils is in full accord with the Bible’s history of creation...'
The Watchtower teaches that the animals we see today are 'very similar' or 'virtually identical' to their ancestors.
Remember that they teach evolution has not produced any new kinds of animals. In terms of function and form, each kind of animals are all just the same today as they were at the beginning of creation.
Watchtower also teaches that all animals were created before mankind.
On Day Six “God proceeded to make the wild beast of the earth according to its kind and the domestic animal according to its kind and every moving animal of the ground according to its kind,” such work being good, as were all of God’s previous creative works.—Ge 1:24, 25.
Toward the end of the sixth day of creative activity, God brought into existence an entirely new kind of creature, superior to the animals even though lower than the angels. This was man"
If all these things were true, then the predators and carnivores that we see today, as well as the prey animals with their inbuilt defense mechanisms, must have all been designed this way by God, before Adam existed.
Logically then, God must have designed the cat family as well as other predators and carnivores, before Adam sinned.
Therefore, mankind's sin cannot be blamed for the existence of carnivorous predators.
For more information regarding predator and prey interactions built into the natural world:
So, which is it?
Did all the parts of the natural world that have caused animal suffering and death come about by intelligent design, as a part of God's creation?
Or did they come about by evolution?
You can't have it both ways.
If God designed the natural world, then he is fully responsible for all of the suffering and death that is part of nature.
Does God care about animals, as the Watchtower claims?
Animals only exist for a brief time on this earth which often ends with them dying in pain from disease, predation, starvation, or the ageing process.
Animals suffer, grow old and die, either by God's original design or by evolution.
Humans are no different.
To claim that humans were always meant to live forever on earth, would make God appear unbalanced and uncaring towards the countless species who always have and always will suffer and die on this earth, without any hope of a resurrection.
"Though animals die in the same manner as man, they do not share his hope of a resurrection." it-1 pp.110-1112
The Watchtower has created doctrines which are not stated anywhere in the Bible, such as humans were meant to live forever on earth before Adam sinned, and animals will definitely have no resurrection.
Watchtower teaches that God designed all things just as they are, without allowing evolution.
The natural world that God supposedly designed shows no sign of compassion to animals. Nature is filled with pain, suffering and death in an infinite variety of ways.
If God's qualities include caring about animals, then that would seem to conflict with this scripture:
"For his invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made..."
Notice some Watchtower commentary on this verse:
'(Romans 1:20) The Creator left his imprint on his handiwork, as Paul pointed out.
Paul is saying that from the moment humans were created, they could see evidence of the Creator’s qualities in the things he made.
...That evidence is all around us. It is not hidden in nature but is “clearly seen.” From the largest to the smallest, creation clearly reveals not only that there is a Creator but also that he has wonderful qualities. Does not the intelligent design so obvious in nature reveal to us God’s wisdom?'
This sounds nice, but ask yourself:
Would a God that loves animals design the natural world in a way that means they all suffer and die from things such as predator attacks, poison, diseases and ageing?
The concept of a loving God who has concern for animals yet does nothing to show it, is inconsistent and flawed.
The Watchtower teaches that God cares for all his creatures, but also that he designed them all.
Therefore God designed them with the capacity to suffer; then he designed them to be eaten alive, or experience disease, ageing, and die painfully.
According to Watchtower teaching, God designed them in this way without even giving them a resurrection hope.
Here is a reminder of their teaching that God cares for animals:
' The righteous person’s concern for his animals finds precedent in God’s own care for them as part of his creation.'
Does God care for animals, wild or domestic?
Where is the evidence to support this claim?
Watchtower's literal view of every account in the Bible makes their position of God caring for animals appear even more inconsistent.
Consider the Biblical Flood, a myth or parable in the view of many religious groups.
Watchtower teaches the Flood was a global flood that really happened, which killed all land-based animals on the entire planet, except those few on the ark.
Some other religions believe this was a localised flood, or just a story.
That was not the case, according to the Watchtower.
Insight book - DELUGE
'The catastrophic destruction of men and animals by an overwhelming flood in the days of Noah, 2370 B.C.E. This greatest cataclysm in all human history was sent by Jehovah because wicked men had filled the earth with violence...This was no local flash flood or cloudburst.
Definitely this was a global deluge, the like of which had never occurred before nor has since.'
Watchtower teachings on God's view of animals are inconsistent and illogical.
The Watchtower teaches that God cares for his animal creation and is their Loving Provider, whilst also teaching he literally killed every single land animal on the planet, without even a resurrection hope.
This is inconsistent, as God would not needlessly destroy innocent animals if he cared about them.
I say needless, because mankind was often punished in the Bible, in various ways, without any animals being killed.
Angels could have been sent to kill all the wicked people.
To claim God drowned countless animals, and at the same time state that he cares for them or considers them compassionately, is totally contradictory.
(Note: later on I will show you a quote where Watchtower claims that God feels pity for animals! Their teaching regarding the biblical flood contradicts this.)
'Though many people focus on their own concerns and ignore any consequences to animals, God compassionately considers them.'
'Some may wonder if the story of the whole earth being covered with water is a myth or at least an exaggeration. Not at all!'
'So just as God had said, all the people and animals outside the ark died.'
'Though animals die in the same manner as man, they do not share his hope of a resurrection.' it-1 pp.1110-1112
(To be continued...)
My next post will be the rest of the article.
I am sorry that some of the links are not clickable.
Because of technical limitations of using my phone, I have had to divide this into two posts. Please Do Not Post!... until I have made my 2nd post. Thankyou. :)