Gratuitous Animal Suffering and the Evidential Problem of Evil

Authored by: Max Elder

The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Animal Ethics

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138592728
eBook ISBN: 9780429489846
Adobe ISBN:


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Theodicies have not adequately considered the implications of non-human animal suffering. Literature that addressees the problem of evil is most often anthropocentric insofar as it rarely mentions evil in a non-human context. When the problem is restated to incorporate the suffering of non-human animals, whom have arguably suffered for millions of years before humans walked the earth, it becomes evident that the most popular theodicies cannot sufficiently account for such evil. This conclusion has two immediate implications. First, there now exists a stronger argument for atheism grounded in the problem of non-human animal suffering. Second, theists who are unconvinced with the argument and thus maintain their theism have the burden of accounting for non-human animal suffering. The only plausible accounts of non-human animal suffering all result in humanity being responsible for the evil. Therefore, if one is committed to theism then one must accept the ethical implication that animal suffering is intimately humanity’s responsibility and there exists a greater mandate for animal ethics.

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