Killing Of Animals In Catholic Church (Things To Know)
Q: Why do animals suffer? It is apparent that nature has always featured death even before the Fall of Man. Therefore, I don’t see how “the Fall” could explain why animals suffer.
A: If one draws simply from the Book of Genesis then the answer is that death; violence and chaos in nature all resulted from Original Sin. Not only were Adam and Eve affected by what they did, but all creation, too. God told Adam, “Cursed be the ground because of you….” (Gen 3:17) In other words, paradise is no longer; death has entered the world, and sin is its cause.
So, Scripture links suffering and upheaval in creation to sin, but the relationship may not be simple as cause and effect. Perhaps it is enough to say that our sin intensified the chaos of creation, but was not its only cause. As you observe, scientific evidence is strong that long before man or Sin, there were great upheavals in creation, and that animals, such as dinosaurs, killed each other for food, and that there was death, even mass extinctions.
Thus, that animals suffer is linked to sin, but mysteriously to other things, too. Consider that there is a circle of life that seems apt for the world. God fashions and refashions using this cycle. Last year’s leaves serve as nutrients in the soil for this year’s growth. Hurricanes distribute heat from the equator toward the poles.
Animals feed upon each other, but also keep their populations in proper balance. There is a genius in the system that must be appreciated, even if it shocks some of our sensibilities.
And while it does seem clear that they do suffer physical pain and experience fear, it may be that a lot of the suffering we impute to them may be a projection. Much of human suffering is rooted in our sense of self and our awareness of death. An animal does not necessarily go through all this. They may instinctually respond to danger in the moment and have little or no emotional feelings at all other than fear which stimulates fight or flight. It is hard to say.
Ultimately, in matters like these, it may be best to admit that we do not have all the answers and are summoned to reverence the mystery that is before us. And suffering, be it human or animal, is a great mystery.