A Scientific Basis for Animal Rights

As an Atheist, I hold a worldview that I believe to be far more profound than any religious person’s worldview.

Atheists subscribe to science and believe that we are the products of evolutionary development.

Atheist beliefs are science based. Factually proven concepts.

Evolutionary biologists have shown that life began on Earth billions of years ago.

And it likely only occurred once.

One microscopic, alive, cell.

And from that cell every living thing on Earth descended.

You and I are related to cabbages, flies, trees, earthworms and whales.

We are the nieces and nephews of dinosaurs.

I find that to be incredibly profound!

Much more profound than a sky wizard who zapped everything out of nothing.

More compelling than talking snakes, burning bushes, or virgin births.

Evolution is the scientific justification for Animal Rights.

Because if we are all related, we all have the same right to be here.

No sky wizard decreeing that one species is more important than another.

 

 

Editor’s Notes:

I am unaware of any other blog with the Armory’s mission of radicalizing the animal movement. I certainly hope I am not alone, and that there are similar sentiments being expressed by comrades unknown to me.

If you know of other blogs dedicated to animal rights and the defeat of capitalism, please comment with a link.

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Natasha Sainsbury, of Good Karma Graphic Design, has joined Armory of the Revolution as Editor, and is responsible for the transformation of the blog’s appearance. Visit and follow her blog V Kind.

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13 thoughts on “A Scientific Basis for Animal Rights

  1. I like you better everyday, Geoff. You have a heart. I know you do not believe in God but you are not cruel about it. Yes, I’d rather have a shaman as a neighbor. I am a believer in those invisible realms. Wouldn’t mind you as a neighbor.

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  2. A belief in animal rights cannot be predicated on science or the facts it uncovers. Science is one practical method of arriving at an approximation of Truth, how the universe works and how it got here. There are other methods (introspection, religion, etc.) but to date none of these other methods of exploration has achieved such spectacular success at unraveling the mysteries of the cosmos as has the scientific method. The ultimate proof of it’s superiority is that it enables reliable, precise predictions about what will happen in the future when a given set of circumstances pertain. No other method of inquiry comes close to the scientific method in explaining and predicting. So, a personal philosophy based on atheism has much to support it.

    Nevertheless, science does not posit value in any particular form of morality. It does not, and cannot by its very nature, support one particular system of ethics over any other. Science is purely a functional way of discovering “truth”, not a moral substrate for ethical concern for non-human (or human!) animals. It is perfectly consistent being a devote’ of science and an atheist without having a scintilla of concern about animal rights, or human rights. And we have seen just such people in the early vivisectionists, brilliant scientists who believed that uncovering new facts about physiology, even the most trivial, trumped any concerns about the methods employed to elucidate them (i.e., procedures that caused hideous suffering to the experimental animals involved). A scientifically provable fact was more important to them than any number of sacrificed experimental animals needed to verify it. Likewise, many Nazi scientists and physicians followed the scientific method with zeal in their experimentation on human subjects; you can critique their morality but not their devotion to science. Though more circumspect in their language, most modern-day animal experimenters still cling to the fundamental belief that discovering new facts using science justifies killing hundreds of millions of laboratory animals. Scientism can be every bit as deadly as religion.

    So, if you are looking for a system of morals upon which to erect the philosophical foundations of animal rights, Science is not the answer.

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    • Great summation of the methods and role of science. And it’s true, science does not specifically support animal rights. Science seeks to find verifiable facts, although medical ethicists and theologians may dispute how those facts are be used. Thus there are debates about the science of xenotransplantation and the morality of engineering and raising animals specifically for the purpose of supplying their organs and body parts to human beings. Some religions oppose prenatal genetic testing because the tests could lead to abortion. Thus scientific discoveries may be valid, but their use may be questioned.

      Your examples demonstrate the issue well. Nazi scientists who conducted experiments on human beings have been roundly condemned as moral monsters. Scientists who torture and kill millions of animals are hailed as heroes and win prestigious awards for their work, this even though similar experiments performed on human beings could be equally valid scientifically.

      As you note, religion is one method used to arrive at the approximation of Truth. Here is a “truth” believed in by millions of believers: “Man is the image of God, partly through the mandate received from his Creator to subdue, to dominate, the earth. In carrying out this mandate, man, every human being, reflects the very action of the Creator of the universe.” This “Truth” was stated by Pope John Paul II in his encyclical “Laborem Exercens.” (www.vatican.va)

      But religious myth does not arrive at scientific truth. And here is where cosmology and evolution may at least help animal rights. Science undermines and disproves the Biblical myth, the Creator, and the role of man on this earth.

      Cosmology reveals the universe is billions of years old, not “days.” Evolution reveals that the hominid ancestors of human beings evolved through the same processes—slow change through time and adaptation to environment—as the other animals with whom we share the earth.

      Thus, science undermines the Bible as the source and justification for human exceptionalism and supremacy and the right to dominate the rest of creation. Human beings may continue to cling to the myths to continue their abuse and exploitation, but their position has no scientific validity.

      Unfortunately, human beings will not give up their myths and they will find other facts and “alternate facts” to continue their domination. They have too much to lose to act in the interests of justice. Our fight is not over.

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      • “… religious myth does not arrive at scientific truth.” True enough. But sometimes (regrettably rare) religious myth does arrive at animal rights; for example, Buddhism or Jainism or some animist religions. Who would you prefer as a neighbor: a Jainist priest who believes in the sanctity of animal life, together with a lot of superstitious dietary nonsense or an NIH-funded, card-carrying atheist who spends his work-days vivisecting laboratory animals; an Albert Schweitzer or a Harry Harlow? My point being that an atheist, Nobelist board member of the AAAS can well be the moral inferior of a shaman.

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  3. The science of cosmology explains the birth of the universe, from its farthest galaxies to the earth, with its oceans and primitive one-celled organisms that led to the evolution of all life. It is a story more marvelous than all the ancient creation myths and their deities.

    In spite of the science behind the cosmology and the evolution of life, many people still cling to the myths. Maybe part of the attraction is that the myths promote human supremacy and justify our role as masters of the planet. Genesis tells us that God made “Man” in His image and bestowed upon him an immortal soul, making him akin to God Himself. No animals were given that status. Instead, we were given dominion over them.

    Evolution tells us that H. sapiens came about the same way as spider monkeys and crocodiles and garden slugs, with slow change over time and environmental adaptation.

    In the process, H. sapiens also happened to acquire a brain capable of producing the Sistine Chapel, Bach’s toccatas, and Shakespeare’s plays.

    The same brain also allows us to become the enemy of life. We produce nuclear bombs that can destroy the planet. We design massive death factories that turn billions of living, breathing beings into plastic-wrapped packages. We breed animals to our specifications to make their lives and deaths more profitable. In our labs we experiment with the basic stuff of life itself, promising more exploitation in the future.

    So science teaches us the how life evolved. But we have not learned evolution’s most important lesson: That we need the humility to admit that we are all a part of the web of life on this planet; that we need the wisdom to value each and every life as much as our own; and that we need the compassion to protect and preserve those lives, not exploit and destroy them.

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  4. Totally agree. It would be nice to think there was a kind father figure up in the sky looking out for us all, but really, think about that for awhile! Even as a child, it didn’t seem feasible. I remember asking my dad about it. He said he knew people who treated others badly all week and then sat in church every Sunday. He wasn’t impressed by that. “Just be kind, treat people (and all creatures), as you would like to be treated, and don’t worry about it”, was his answer. Religion has been used by humans in authority to control people down through the ages, and it has worked very well. We all fear the unknown and want to hedge our bets. The Bible is, after all, just a book written by humans and passed down through the ages, and was never actually meant to be taken literally. There is scientific proof of how the world came into existence, however, and the facts can’t be ignored. Other than that, it’s just wishful thinking and, of course, it would be nice.

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