Tuesday, May 15, 2012
The Problem of Pain: Chapter 9 - Animal Pain
For anyone new here, I am doing a series of "book club" posts going through "The Problem of Pain" by CS Lewis. The format I post in is similar to my bible posts, section headings in bold, summary in regular text, my comments in italics. The only difference here is there are no section headings in the book so I make them up.
Animal Suffering is Different than Human Suffering
Animal suffering is different from human pain because they are incapable of sin and virtue, so they can neither deserve pain nor be improved by it. Therefore it might seem that animal pain is pointless. But because of the doctrine that God is good, we can confidently deduce that the appearance of reckless divine cruelty in the animal kingdom is an illusion. We have no experience with animal suffering, so everything we say is speculative.
I hope he justifies this as we go on in the chapter. It is not good to start by assuming what you want to be true.
Plants are Different than Animals
There are times when we talk of plant life as though the flower enjoys the sun, or that different plants compete with one another for resources. We must remember that these are mere metaphors. What really matters when we are talking about our current topic is sentience.
Always a good idea to remember that our metaphors will eventually break down and we shouldn't be slaves to them.
What Do Animals Suffer?
It is impossible to know for sure, but we can guess. The first thing we should do is distinguish between different kinds of animals. Apes for example, are much more developed than earthworms. We need not lump apes in the same category as the earthworms being "non-human animal" where they are actually quite like us. It is reasonable to assume apes have consciousness but there is no reason to think they have sentience or a soul.
I don't really understand the different between consciousness and sentience, and I don't believe we have a soul.
What is the Origin of Animal Suffering?
Animal suffering could be a result of the fall of man, except that animals existed long before man did, so that doesn't make sense. However, it is largely accepted that there was activity on earth before we got here and perhaps there was another fall before us. Perhaps Satan was there before humans got there and there was a different fall.
This seems pretty out of nowhere to me.
How Can Animal Suffering be Reconciled With the Justice of God?
The lower animals don't feel pain in the way we do. They are merely sentient but not conscious.
I still don't really understand this distinction and find it to be fairly silly.
But the question still remains for some of the higher level animals who seem to feel pain in similar ways as us.
He never really seemed to answer this, although I might have missed it. He talked a lot about how animals are probably not immortal, although when we have pets they might become immortal along with us, or something. He seemed to end the chapter by saying we can never be sure that animals are even in pain in the same way we are. This to me is just a huge cop-out.
Again, he didn't satisfactorily answer the central question of the chapter.
Next week: chapter 10 heaven.