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Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Problem Of Pain

Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel.  He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it.  ~ Mark Twain

The problem of animal suffering is appalling; not because the animals are so numerous(for… no more pain is felt when a million suffer than when one suffers) but because the Christian explanation of human pain cannot be extended to animal pain.   So far we know, beasts are incapable, either of sin or virtue: therefore they can neither deserve pain nor be improved by it.  At the same time, we must never allow the problem of animal suffering to become the center of the problem of pain; not because it is unimportant — whatever furnishes plausible grounds for questioning the goodness of God is very important indeed — but because it is outside the range of our knowledge.  

God has given us data which enable us, in some degree, to understand our own suffering: He has given us no such data about beasts.  We know neither why they were made nor what they are, and everything we say about them is speculative.  From the doctrine that God is good we may confidently declare that the appearance of reckless Divine cruelty in the animal kingdom is an illusion — and the fact that the only suffering we know at first hand(ours) turns out not to be a cruelty will make it easier to believe this.  After that, everything is guesswork…

We have reason to believe that not all animals suffer as we think they do: but some, at least, look as if they had selves, and what shall be done for these innocents?  And we have seen that it is possible to believe that animal pain is not God’s handiwork but begun by Satan’s malice and perpetuated by man’s desertion of his post: still, if God has not caused it, He has permitted it, and, once again, what shall be done for these innocents?

~ C.S. Lewis, On Grief 1979 page 56

Until he extends the circle of compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.  ~ Dr Albert Schweitzer

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