Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
A Communion of Subjects

A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science, and Ethics

Paul Waldau
Kimberley Patton
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 720
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    A Communion of Subjects
    Book Description:

    A Communion of Subjects is the first comparative and interdisciplinary study of the conceptualization of animals in world religions. Scholars from a wide range of disciplines, including Thomas Berry (cultural history), Wendy Doniger (study of myth), Elizabeth Lawrence (veterinary medicine, ritual studies), Marc Bekoff (cognitive ethology), Marc Hauser (behavioral science), Steven Wise (animals and law), Peter Singer (animals and ethics), and Jane Goodall (primatology) consider how major religious traditions have incorporated animals into their belief systems, myths, rituals, and art. Their findings offer profound insights into humans' relationships with animals and a deeper understanding of the social and ecological web in which we all live.

    Contributors examine Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Daoism, Confucianism, African religions, traditions from ancient Egypt and early China, and Native American, indigenous Tibetan, and Australian Aboriginal traditions, among others. They explore issues such as animal consciousness, suffering, sacrifice, and stewardship in innovative methodological ways. They also address contemporary challenges relating to law, biotechnology, social justice, and the environment. By grappling with the nature and ideological features of various religious views, the contributors cast religious teachings and practices in a new light. They reveal how we either intentionally or inadvertently marginalize "others," whether they are human or otherwise, reflecting on the ways in which we assign value to living beings.

    Though it is an ancient concern, the topic of "Religion and Animals" has yet to be systematically studied by modern scholars. This groundbreaking collection takes the first steps toward a meaningful analysis.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50997-8
    Subjects: Philosophy, Zoology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  4. Essay Abstracts
    (pp. xv-xxxiv)
  5. Heritage of the Volume
    (pp. 1-4)

    This unique volume on world religions and animals arose in the context of a three-year intensive conference series entitled “Religions of the World and Ecology,” held at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School. The series critically examined attitudes toward nature in the world’s religious traditions in addition to highlighting environmental projects around the world inspired by religious values. From 1996 to 1998 the series of ten conferences examined the traditions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, Shinto, and indigenous religions. The conferences, organized by Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, at...

  6. Prologue Loneliness and Presence
    (pp. 5-10)

    At the time of his treaty with the European settlers in 1854, Chief Seattle of the Suquamish tribe along the North Pacific coast is reported to have said that when the last animals will have perished “humans would die of loneliness.”¹ This was an insight that might never have occurred to a European settler. Yet this need for more-than-human companionship has a significance and an urgency that we begin to appreciate in more recent times.To understand this primordial need that humans have for the natural world and its animal inhabitants we need only reflect on the needs of our children,...

  7. Introduction
    (pp. 11-24)

    Who are the animals and what do they mean to us? The radical intimacy between human beings and the multiple animal worlds that surround and penetrate our own, an intimacy suggested by Thomas Berry, is both catalyst and center of meaning for this wide-ranging volume. Berry’s challenge to see the world as a “communion of subjects”rather than as a “collection of objects” moves the ground for our relationship to animals away from use, away from commodification, and even away from sentimentality. If animals are, in their own right, the subjects of experience, beings with consciousness, emotional and moral range, ontological...

  8. PART I Animals in Religion, Science, and Ethics:: In and Out of Time

    • “Caught with Ourselves in the Net of Life and Time”: Traditional Views of Animals in Religion
      (pp. 27-39)

      On the first floor of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the skeleton of an adult male excavated at Eynan in the Hula Valley in Galilee is on display. The remains are Natufian, and date anywhere from 10,500 to 8,300 BCE. Very close by the upper body lie the bones of a small dog. The man was buried on his side in a fetal position with his head facing, and one arm extended toward, the similarly curled skeleton of the dog. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to exegete the meaning of this particular burial arrangement, which could range from...

    • Seeing the Terrain We Walk: Features of the Contemporary Landscape of “Religion and Animals”
      (pp. 40-62)

      Though some have suggested that the topic of this volume is a new emphasis in academia, religious traditions, and general public awareness, we do not begin this discussion of religion and animals completelyanew. Rather,we rely heavily on much that has already been claimed within and without religion about the nonhuman lives amidst which we live.This volume takes an additional step in a fundamental exploration that has been an ongoing project of sensitive, compassionate humans for millennia. It is the editors’ and contributors’ hope to engender vigorous, lucid debate, and even to birth a new kind of community, addressing the many...

  9. PART II Animals in Abrahamic Traditions

    • Judaism

      • Sacrifice in Ancient Israel: Pure Bodies, Domesticated Animals, and the Divine Shepherd
        (pp. 65-80)

        An analysis of biblical sacrifice holds promise for elucidating ancient Israelite attitudes toward animals in general and toward especially those animal species that were considered most fit for sacrifice: sheep, goats, and cattle (Leviticus 1:2). But understanding sacrifice in ancient Israel is a problematic endeavor, for a good deal of what has been written on biblical sacrifice has been influenced by undue and imbalanced hostility toward a ritual that means much more than most are willing to grant.

        One challenge raised by sacrifice in general is a moral one—or so it is thought. A number of theoretical works on...

      • Hope for the Animal Kingdom: A Jewish Vision
        (pp. 81-90)

        Throughout its long history, Judaism has emphasized that the animal kingdom is to be respected and dealt with kindly. In the earliest writings of the tradition as well as in its later commentaries, many injunctions exist regarding each human’s obligation to treat nonhuman animals well. The animals included are not only the domesticated animals that are an integral part of any community, but also animals without an owner and those belonging to non-Jews. The underlying vision of merciful treatment of all living beings is thus a central feature of Judaism’s idea of a moral life, and this remains true even...

      • Hierarchy, Kinship, and Responsibility: The Jewish Relationship to The Animal World
        (pp. 91-100)

        Under the biblical perspective, a change took place in the status of animals from what had prevailed in Babylonian and Egyptian cultures: animals were demythologized—as were humans. There are no animal deities in the Bible; there are no human deities in the Bible. Animal life was neither elevated nor degraded because of the demythologizing process. Animals were no longer worshipped, singly or collectively, but they were accorded an irreducible value in the divine pathos, which is expressed in the covenantal statements, in halachic decisions or laws, and in aggadic material. These three branches of Jewish expression determine the tradition...

    • Christianity

      • The Bestiary of Heretics: Imaging Medieval Christian Heresy with Insects and Animals
        (pp. 103-116)

        Animals figure prominently in literature from the Western Middle Ages: fables, bestiaries, stories about Renard the fox, and beast poems.¹ They also play a role in ecclesiastical writings: medieval exegesis and related genres such as sermons and treatises. The dominant medieval view of nonhuman creation, grounded on Genesis 1:28, held that humans maintained dominion over animals, considered theologically, legally, and practically as property.² One current of thought, as exemplified in St. Francis of Assisi, held nonhuman creation in some esteem, and some later scholastic authors, ascribing to the Aristotelian and Pauline notion of the community of all creatures (Roman 8:21),...

      • Descartes, Christianity, and Contemporary Speciesism
        (pp. 117-131)

        As enlightened as we may consider ourselves to be today on the question of animal rights and the question of the nature of animal experience, it has got to come as a surprise that our views and even the methods we employ in examining these sorts of questions are in certain respects pointedly Cartesian.¹ Descartes is widely recognized to have held the view that animals do not in any deep sense have experiences, and it is generally assumed that in one way or another this conviction led Descartes to the proposition that human beings have no moral obligations whatsoever toward...

      • Practicing the Presence of God: A Christian Approach to Animals
        (pp. 132-146)

        Can Christianity, “good news” for humanity as the very term “Gospel” proclaims, become good news for animals? I write as a Christian, influenced by process theology and other sources, who believes that Christianity, which has often been bad news for animals, can become good news for them in the future. I hope this essay will be of service not only to Christians who care about animals and who hope that Christianity can become more sensitive to them, but also to people of other religions or of no religion, who are hopeful that Christianity might become “good news for animals,” if...

    • Islam

      • “This she-camel of God is a sign to you”: Dimensions of Animals in Islamic Tradition and Muslim Culture
        (pp. 149-159)

        It is frequently claimed that one position or another represents “true” Islam. Nevertheless, there exists no unified Islamic or Muslim view of nonhuman animals. It is also important to acknowledge that, while the terms are often difficult to disentangle for those both within and without the tradition, “Islamic” and “Muslim” are certainly not synonymous, since attitudes held by individuals or collectives who happen to be “Muslim” may not be “Islamic.”¹

        There are currently about 1.2 billion Muslims, and they can be found in nearly every country. The vast majority—about 85 percent—are not Arab but belong to other ethnic...

      • The Case of the Animals Versus Man: Towards an Ecology of Being
        (pp. 160-169)

        A fascinating text that my students and I read in my Islamic Philosophy course tells of how at first, when the people of the race of Adam were few in number, they lived in fear, hiding from the many wild animals and beasts of prey. However, as the population grew they built cities and settled on the plains; they enslaved cattle and beasts and used them for their own purposes such as riding, hauling, plowing, and threshing; they “wore them out in service, imposing work beyond their powers, and checked them from seeking their own ends.”¹ In presenting their case...

      • “Oh that I could be a bird and fly, I would rush to the Beloved”: Birds in Islamic Mystical Poetry
        (pp. 170-176)
        ALI ASANI

        Sufi poets, whether writing in Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Sindhi, Gujarati, or Swahili, have been fascinated by birds. Many have regarded birds as ensouled beings who have a special relationship with God. Since they are able to fly free in the heavens, birds are perceived as having easier access to the Divine Beloved than earthbound creatures such as humans, who suffer the fate of being caged in the shell of the material body, as the famous Persian poet Hafiz explains in his verses:

        Not surprisingly many Muslim mystics would agree with the sentiments of an anonymous sixteenth-century Sufi poet who wrote...

  10. PART III Animals in Indian Traditions

    • Hinduism

      • Cows, Elephants, Dogs, and Other Lesser Embodiments of Ātman: Reflections on Hindu Attitudes Toward Nonhuman Animals
        (pp. 179-193)

        The Deccan Herald of January 25, 1999, reports that, a few days earlier, in the town of Shakarapuram near the South Indian city of Bangalore, a group of devotees gathered to hear a talk on the Bhagavad Gītā by a famous scholar, Bannanje Govindacharya. He was visiting from Udipi, a Vaisnava pilgrimage center of great sanctity. As part of the function, the pandit’s new Kanada translation of the much-loved Hindu epic the Rāmāyana was being formally released to the public. As Govindacharya alighted from his vehicle, proceeded into the hall, and ascended the stage, an adult monkey followed close behind....

      • Strategies of Vedic Subversion: The Emergence of Vegetarianism in Post-Vedic India
        (pp. 194-204)

        This essay examines aspects of the history of animal slaughter in certain orthodox Hindu Sanskrit textual sources¹ by exploring the tension between the himsā,² “violence,” constitutional to the sacrificial requirements of the Vedic age, and the ahimsā, “nonviolence,” associated with the ātman, or soul-based sensitivities of the post-Vedic age.³ As the development between these two polarities evolved, animals increasingly began to be perceived as subjects, fellow souls temporarily encapsulated in nonhuman physical bodies, as opposed to disposable objects that could be utilized and sacrificed against their will in the pursuit of human needs. In this latter regard, the attitudes during...

    • Buddhism

      • “A vast unsupervised recycling plant”: Animals and the Buddhist Cosmos
        (pp. 207-217)
        IAN HARRIS

        Buddhism has flourished in most regions of Asia, in some cases for more than two thousand years. Its heritage has been preserved in written texts, architectural structures, political systems, and village customs. Not unsurprisingly, its view of animals is complex—periodically shifting and, to a substantial extent, determined by cultural attitudes that often predate the emergence of Buddhism itself.

        Given the overwhelmingly agrarian condition of Indian society in the early Buddhist period and the practice of mendicancy among the first members of the monastic order, among other factors, it is perhaps unsurprising that animals feature regularly in the writings of...

      • Snake-Kings, Boars’ Heads, Deer Parks, Monkey Talk: Animals as Transmitters and Transformers in Indian and Tibetan Buddhist Narratives
        (pp. 218-238)

        In the visual and textual milieu of Buddhist traditions, animals have played a prominent role in revealing the complexities of Buddhist cosmology, doctrine, and practice while reflecting indigenous and pre-Buddhist traditional elements. As befits a religion that originated in a rural setting like India and the subsistence agriculture of the Tibetan plateau, one may find an overabundance of actual, mythical, and magical animals in Buddhist narrative art and literature. Animals like the lion, deer, elephant, yak, horse, serpent, dragon, and hybrid (animalhuman) forms were often adopted from earlier pre-Buddhist motifs and transformed by the Buddhist tradition.

        Yet early on, such...

    • Jainism

      • Inherent Value without Nostalgia: Animals and the Jaina Tradition
        (pp. 241-249)

        Animals play a prominent role in the metaphysics and ethics of Jainism. The first section of this exploration of the place of animals in the Jaina religious tradition explains the philosophical attitude taken toward animals in Jainism, after which it discusses the hierarchy of life forms as found in primary Jaina texts such as the Ācārāṅga Sūtra, the Tattvārtha Sūtra, and some of the later narrative literature. The second section investigates the symbology of animals in Jainism, with special reference to the identification of several Jaina Ṭīrthaūkaras, or religious leaders, with specific animals. The third section will discuss the Jaina...

      • Five-Sensed Animals in Jainism
        (pp. 250-256)

        According to Jain tradition, at certain times in our location of the universe, a series of twenty-four individuals are born who, in the course of their lives, are destined to attain enlightenment through their own efforts and to show others the path of salvation (mokṣa) from the cycle of birth and death (samsāra). These perfected human beings, called Jinas (Spiritual Victors) or Tīrthaṅkaras (Ford-Makers), share their knowledge of salvation with others by preaching in a specially constructed circular assembly hall (samavasarana). Encircling the Jina on the first ring is the fourfold congregation of Jain monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen. Behind...

  11. PART IV Animals in Chinese Traditions

    • Early Chinese Religion

      • “Of a tawny bull we make offering”: Animals in Early Chinese Religion
        (pp. 259-272)

        Historians and scholars of religion face one of their hardest tasks when trying to explicate and reconstruct “religion in practice” in ancient civilizations. Any attempt to resurrect a multifaceted and complex religious culture from fragmentary textual and material evidence remains subject to interpretative lacunae and ongoing revision. Although some ancient beliefs and practices survive their ritual practitioners and audiences through the collective memory in text, artifacts, and scripture, much of its antecedent religious lore shares a less enduring fate. Our understanding of ancient religious practice is further conditioned by the impossibility of direct witness and participation, a privilege reserved for...

    • Daoism

      • Daoism and Animals
        (pp. 275-290)

        Ancient China was a world rich in animals. In dramatic contrast to the devastated modern landscape, China’s biodiversity was the greatest of any temperate land. It was a land of vast lush forests, rich grasslands, fertile mountains, and enormous expanses of wetland-marsh, swamp, and river bottom. In these dwelt elephants, rhinoceri, pandas, apes, tigers, leopards, and countless smaller forms.

        The earliest Chinese artifacts from the Shang dynasty (traditionally 1766–1122 bce , actually somewhat later) include many representations of dragons and other imaginary creatures, but relatively few portrayals of real-world animals. Actual animals depicted include water buffaloes, tigers, sheep, and...

    • Confucianism

      • Of Animals and Humans: The Confucian Perspective
        (pp. 293-308)

        The classical Confucian tradition is distinctive in part because it emphasizes a specific set of moral relations within which the involved individuals are enjoined to develop appropriate moral virtues. This set of relations is usually described as the five human relationships: king-subject, father-son, husband-wife, elder brother-younger brother, and friend-friend.¹

        Conspicuous for their absence from this list are animals and other living things, a fact that goes some way toward explaining the prevailing tendency to classify the Confucian ethic as just another species of humanism. In its religious teachings, however, Confucianism does not restrict the realm of value or the scope...

  12. PART V East Meets West:: Animals in Philosophy and Cultural History

    • Human Exceptionalism versus Cultural Elitism: (Or “Three in the morning, four at night” 朝三暮四)
      (pp. 311-324)

      In classical Western thinking, from Aristotle and the Stoics through Aquinas and Descartes, down to the present day, the notion of “human exceptionalism”—human beings are an exception to nature, both in kind and quality—has been a persistent theme. The distinction between the human and the animal, when not assumed for religious reasons, has largely been argued for by equating thought with language: that is, animals don’t talk, ergo they don’t think.

      In opposition to “human exceptionalism,” there has been a countercurrent, which includes philosophers such as Rousseau, Hume, and certainly Nietzsche. Further, over the past century and a...

    • Humans and Animals: The History from a Religio-Ecological Perspective
      (pp. 325-332)

      Two essays in this volume—Roger T. Ames’s “Human Exceptionalism versus Cultural Elitism: “Three in the morning, four at night’” and Gary Steiner’s “Descartes, Christianity, and Contemporary Speciesism”—in examining the ideological bases to the relationships between humans and animals, demonstrate considerable commonalities in classical Chinese and European philosophical and religious understandings. Ames discusses the Chinese conception of cultural elitism, which presumes that the achievement of culture provides humans with a privileged relationship vis-à-vis animals. Steiner examines the Greek and Classical influences on Descartes for the development of his influential understanding of animals as essentially machines, a view now termed...

  13. PART VI Animals in Myth

    • A Symbol in Search of an Obeject: The Mythology of Horses in India
      (pp. 335-350)

      Animals are good to think with, as Claude Lévi-Strauss noted long ago and famously. They become the objects of our thoughts as well as of our subjugation; but people who live with animals often pick up the mind-sets of their companions. Another anthropologist, E.E. Evans-Pritchard, warned that it was futile to try to imagine how it would feel “if I were a horse.”¹ Radcliffe-Brown, in conversation with Max Gluckman, had nick-named James George Frazer’s mode of reasoning the “If-I-were-a-horse” argument, from the story of the farmer in the MiddleWest whose horse had strayed from its paddock. The farmer went into...

    • Animals in African Mythology
      (pp. 351-359)

      Our African forbears regarded themselves as an inextricable part of the environment, and their lives were interconnected with all living things. They found themselves to be in a neighborly relationship with the created order of things, such as the earth, trees, animals and spirits, and this awareness expressed itself in numerous restrictions and taboos aimed at regulating human relationships with the world around them. These regulations suggest the conscious awareness that the environment was not dead or inert but was populated by beings, just like ourselves, and the existence of these beings presupposed relationships between us (humans) and them.


    • “Why Umbulka Killed His Master”: Aboriginal Reconciliation and the Australian Wild Dog (Canis lupus dingo)
      (pp. 360-370)

      During his voyages of exploration along Australia’s east coast in 1770 Captain James Cook made mention in his diaries that Aborigines often ignored his presence, desired none of his many gifts, and would not give up anything of their own to him. This image of Aboriginal self-sufficiency and total uninterest in the new is characteristic of many stories of first contact. Although they are far removed in time and space from the Cook encounters, northern Australian Aboriginal narratives describing first contact with Macassan fisherman from Sulawesi in Indonesia—who visited northern Australia fromas early as 1700 in search of beche...

  14. PART VII Animals in Ritual

    • Knowing and Being Known by Animals: Indigenous Perspectives on Personhood
      (pp. 373-390)

      One of the least understood dimensions of indigenous thought from a Western intellectual perspective is the mutuality of knowing between humans and animals. That animals can be perceived directly or that animals can be skillfully tracked with very little physical evidence are not the issue. Rather, hunter-gatherers and small-scale agriculturists from many different regions of the globe speak of knowing and of being intimately known by animals. This knowing exchange with animals is often described by these individuals as an affective and transformational mode of knowing. This essay explores that intimacy of relations between indigenous peoples and animals through perspectives...

    • Animal Sacrifice: Metaphysics of the Sublimated Victim
      (pp. 391-405)

      The ritual of sacrifice has proven perhaps the most susceptible to the label of socially enacted “strategy,” a façade whose various “real” goals can be laid bare by the scholar of religion: the distribution of protein, for example, or the collective diversion of attention from internecine violence, or “the production of a political ideology in which the perspective of male nobles is elaborated as a transcendent divine truth.”¹ This insistence on sacrifice as strategy is made because, as a ritual, sacrifice seems by the light of contemporary ethical sensibilities horrifying and senseless, “cruel” and “compulsive,” or even, in the words...

    • Hunting the Wren: A Sacred Bird in Ritual
      (pp. 406-412)

      My study of the wren-hunt ritual began with a tantalizing question: Why in certain areas of Britain and Europe would the little brown wren, a familiar and beloved bird, be hunted and killed on a certain day of the year? In recent times answers to this riddle have sprung out of people’s consciousness and experience, and those answers have been added to the lore of the wren ceremony as rationalizations of a custom whose meanings have been obscured by time and changing ideologies. Evidence points to the origin of the wren hunt as an ancient winter sacrificial rite that involved...

    • Ridiculus Mus: Of Mice and Men in Roman Thought
      (pp. 413-422)

      In 208 bce, in the very midst of the Second Punic War, Roman military operations were brought to a complete halt because it was announced that several mice had nibbled gold in a temple of Jupiter (Livy 27.23.1–4). Remarkable as it may seem, Roman authorities did not reject out of hand this report of “church mice” scrounging about for a most unlikely bite to eat, but instead treated it as a very dire prodigy. As an omen, it was not alone in the annals of Roman religious lore: similar instances are recorded in the years 203, 179, and 90...

    • Raven Augury from Tibet to Alaska: Dialects, Divine Agency, and the Bird’s-Eye View
      (pp. 423-436)

      Ravens (Corvus corax), through their speech and behavior, serve as divinatory messengers in the folk traditions of people throughout Eurasia. The raven is a bird of augury in Tibet and Mongolia, and among other Asian religious cultures as diverse as the Naxi and the Tuvans. Along the coast of Arctic Asia and across the Bering Strait in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest of North America the raven is a deity, a mischievous creator, a transformer. How and why and when did the raven come to be seen and heard, religiously, in such differing ways? Historical migration of peoples, transmission of...

  15. PART VIII Animals in Art

    • On the Dynamis of Animals, or How Animalium Became Anthropos
      (pp. 439-458)

      After the death of the renowned French Minister of Culture, and avowed agnostic, André Malraux (1901–1976), a memorial ceremony celebrating his life and works was held at the Palais du Louvre in Paris.² There, in the institution so well known to him and to other aesthetes, Malraux was remembered for his singular achievements in redefining French culture and cultural institutions, his role in the French resistance in World War II, and his extraordinary commitment to the idea of the arts as a form of spiritual transcendence. Yet, he was not to be imaged or even imagined in the form...

  16. PART IX Animals as Subjects:: Ethical Implications for Science

    • Wild Justice, Social Cognition, Fairness, and Morality: A Deep Appreciation for the Subjective Lives of Animals
      (pp. 461-480)

      Nonhuman animals (hereafter “animals”) are subjects, not objects. They have their own lives and are not to be viewed or treated as backpacks, couches, or bicycles. This, to me, is an undebatable claim. So, when one examines the nitty-gritty details of their lives or how they spend their time, when one observes who they interact with, where they do what they do and how they do it, or when one studies their intellectual and cognitive abilities and their deep emotional lives, one gainsnot only a full appreciation of their lives, but also a full appreciation of human spirituality and what...

    • From Cognition to Consciousness
      (pp. 481-504)

      Most people take it for granted that animals want to get such things as food, shelter, and companionship, and that they try to avoid unpleasant experiences. Certainly much of their behavior is consistent with this commonsense view. But convincing scientific demonstrations that these assumptions are valid have been very difficult to achieve. Nevertheless, recent observations and experiments have tended to increase the likelihood that animals do think consciously, albeit in very simple terms, and make sensible choices about what they do. This essay will review these developments, which are still in an early and tentative stage, and attempt to reflect...

    • Are Animals Moral Agents? Evolutionary Building Blocks of Morality
      (pp. 505-518)

      Once upon a time, a serpent seduced a young woman to eat a piece of fruit from a forbidden tree. Having tasted this delectable fruit, this woman suggested that her lover taste the fruit as well. He did, faithfully. She couldn’t resist the serpent’s offer, and he couldn’t resist hers. Both were weak. Both lacked control. Both fell victim to temptation, to a cunning serpent and a piece of fruit. The Bible and other religious narratives provide one story about the relationship between temptation and control. Here, I would like to provide another story—one motivated by a history that...

    • Ethics, Biotechnology, and Animals
      (pp. 519-532)

      Any new technology, of whatever form, will create a lacuna in social ethical thought. To put it simply, powerful new devices and tools, when first introduced, cause us to wonder about the positive and negative effects and implications they will have on our lives. For example, with the introduction of the automobile, people immediately worried (and rightly so) about the possible dangers cars posed to pedestrians and to horses. On the other hand, less obvious concerns probably did not get discussed, for example, the proliferation of respiratory disease or the growth of suburbs or the decline of close, nuclear families....

    • Animal Experimentation
      (pp. 533-544)

      As a psychologist who is also an animal advocate, I am perforce interested in ethics, which I take to be central to the project of religion. In fact, the current debate over our treatment and use of animals in the laboratory invokes both science-and ethics-based discourses. Here, I largely bracket ethical considerations to present a critique of animal research that originates in the scientific enterprise itself. I present a case built on scientific methods of assessing animal research and offer illustrative findings of their application (Shapiro 1998). I welcome this opportunity for I see it as part of a larger...

  17. PART X Are Animals “for” Humans?: The Issues of Factory Farming

    • Caring for Farm Animals: Pastoralist Ideals in an Industrialized World
      (pp. 547-555)

      When one of my students began doing scientific research on the welfare of farm animals, he mentioned this eccentric new interest to his grandmother. The grandmother had been raised in rural Poland in the early 1900s, and recalled an argument that had arisen in her family when she was a child. At that time the family and their farm animals lived in the same dwelling, but some family members wanted to build a wall to separate the humans from the other species. Those who wanted the wall argued that it would be more pleasant and hygienic to be removed from...

    • Agriculture, Livestock, and Biotechnology: Values, Profits, and Ethics
      (pp. 556-567)

      Compassion is a boundless ethic, drawing all living beings into the circle of our moral community, which is a reflection of our ecological community as well as our ecocentric or ecospiritual perception and perspective. All beings are interrelated, interdependent, and of the same origin. This has all been scientifically verified; it provides the objective basis for a creation-centered or cosmocentric spirituality that is essentially panentheistic and moves us from compassion to communion and a reverential respect for the life and beauty of Earth.

      As Thomas Berry has opined, the cosmos is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects...

    • Agribusiness: Farming Without Culture
      (pp. 568-582)

      Agriculture is an ancient relationship between humans and nature that provides sustenance and livelihood for all the generations we call civilization. The foundations of human organizations from family units to empires are based on the ability to produce food. Through most of history, interrelationships between animals and humans along with soils and climate have formed the cornerstones of agriculture.

      The industrialization of food production and the emergence of agribusiness are ending the delicate balance among humans, other animals, and nature in modern farming systems. Machines, technologies, and the use of animals as commodities now produce incredible profits for a few...

  18. PART XI Contemporary Challenges:: Law, Social Justice, and the Environment

    • Animals and the Law

      • Animal Law and Animal Sacrifice: Analysis of the U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on Santería Animal Sacrifice in Hialeah
        (pp. 585-588)

        In 1993, the United States Supreme Court voided ordinances enacted by the City Council for Hialeah, Florida, because they violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution (Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 (1993). A series of actions by the Hialeah City Council had impinged the ability of followers of the Santería religion to engage in the ritual sacrifice of nonhuman animals (Id., at 526–28). As a result, the Santeríans remained free to engage in this practice.

        Many erroneously believe the Court ruled that the ritual sacrifice...

    • Animals and Social Justice

      • “A very rare and difficult thing”: Ecofeminism, Attention to Animal Suffering, and the Disappearance of the Subject
        (pp. 591-604)

        This essay is an ecofeminist exploration of two out-of-place cows and what they teach us about several interrelated issues regarding the religious imagination and human relations with non-humans. The first cow was fashioned by filmmaker David Lynch for the “Cow Parade,” a collection of artily painted sculptured bovines scattered throughout New York City in 2000. Lynch’s painted cow had “Eat My Fear” written across its hacked, decapitated, and disemboweled body. This cow appeared in the cow parade for two and a half hours, but caused children to cry and subsequently was kept under wraps in a warehouse. The other cow,...

      • Interlocking Oppressions: The Nature of Cruelty to Nonhuman Animals and its Relationship to Violence Toward Humans
        (pp. 605-615)

        This volume explores the concept of the world as a “communion of subjects, not a collection of objects.” Tragically, many in our world community are treated as objects, and the ideal of communion is lost in the effort to oppress and subjugate others. Subjects become objects. This objectification can be seen, for example, in the abuse of nonhuman animals, as well as the abuse of children, spouses, and elders. The oppressors view many nonhuman animals as “tools” to be used to further efforts to dominate others. To address oppression, we must explore and understand the interconnectedness of these many forms...

      • Animal Protection and the Problem of Religion An Interview with Peter Singer
        (pp. 616-618)

        An interview with ethicist Peter Singer in 2004 by co-editor Paul Waldau of the Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine.

        Paul waldau: Your ground-breaking Animal Liberation, sometimes referred to as “the Bible” of the animal protection movement, includes in chapter 5 extensive observations and claims about the relationship of religion to attitudes toward nonhuman lives. Do you still hold substantially the same attitudes on the subject “religion and animals” that you held when you wrote that book in 1975?

        Peter singer: Substantially, yes, but not in every detail. First, as I said in that chapter, I was writing for Western readers,...

    • Animals and Global Stewardship

      • Earth Charter Ethics and Animals
        (pp. 621-628)

        The Earth Charter, a product of the 1990s global ethics movement, is receiving growing support internationally. The worldview expressed in the Earth Charter is in many respects a variation on the theme of Thomas Berry’s statement that the universe is “a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects” (Berry and Swimme 1992; Prologue, this volume). Consistent with this outlook, at the heart of the Earth Charter is an ethic of respect and care for Earth and all life. This essay explores how this document views animals and how its ethic of respect and care is applied to them. In...

      • Pushing Environmental Justice to a Natural Limit
        (pp. 629-642)

        The Chartists were mid-nineteenth-century English reformers who fought for the rights of all men. They fell silent when they were confronted with the fact that their campaign, allegedly based on equality, failed to include women.¹ As Cora Diamond notes, John Stuart Mill was one of the few who pointed out that the Chartists’ silence on the larger issue reflected the possibility that they were not really concerned with equality, as they professed to be, but with a lesser vision.² Today it is easy to see that while from some vantage points the Chartists promoted an important set of reforms, from...

  19. Conclusion

    • A Communion of Subjects and a Multiplicity of Intelligences
      (pp. 645-648)

      Thomas Berry has observed that there are three key principles that have shaped the evolutionary process of the universe, namely, differentiation, subjectivity, and communion. By differentiation he suggests that from the primordial flaring forth of the universe differentiated particles arose and over time were forged into enormously varied galaxies. Our own solar system is a highly differentiated group of planets with Earth emerging as the most abundant expression of life forms we know. Each plant, insect, and animal is different fromevery other.No two red oaks or white pines are exactly the same, no two daffodils or tomato plants, no two...

  20. Epilogue

    • The Dance of Awe
      (pp. 651-656)

      kcp: Jane, I have read your work in the context of teaching my course on animals and religion at Harvard, and I want to start by asking you to reflect on the fact that when you went into the field in Tanzania, you weren’t trained at that time to see animals as numbers, or as objects, or as things, but rather from your own experience automatically treated them as individuals. It seems in a way that you were therefore more open to the possibility of observing in them a wider range of behavior, emotion, and cognition than you would have...

  21. List of Contributors
    (pp. 657-666)
  22. Index
    (pp. 667-686)