Atheism Has Nothing To Do with Animal Liberation: Why Atheists Should Consider Animal Liberation


It’s all a bunch of shit, really

Dear fellow atheist,

I invite you to seriously consider animal liberation. By “animal liberation” I mean the idea that non-human animals exist for their own sakes; that we have no rights to their lives, labor, or limbs; and that their current treatment by humans should be eradicated.

Atheism has nothing to do with animal liberation. I’m an atheist and an ethical vegan. They have nothing to do with one another, but they go hand in hand for me. That’s why I think an argument like this could work. That’s why I think you are more predisposed to the idea than you might imagine. I know you took/take a lot of shit to get to that position. And based on that, I believe there are some facts of life that tie atheists and proponents of animal liberation together.

Just hear me out.

You’ve rejected empty pre-supposition.

Just straight out- {god} is some shit. Our theist friends claim we’re the ones living by faith, that we’re the ones with the burden of proving {god} does not exist. People with a compassion for animals often have the same sort of realization, straight out. Killing animals is shit. We don’t think there is some inherent right in humans to do with animals as we please. We acknowledge no basis for it. Just like religion, there is no basis. There is only many, many years of people being assholes to animals and using that behavior to shame everyone who knows it’s stupid and fucked up.

Just like religion.

You’ve rejected suffering as a necessary condition of life.

You looked passed the empty platitudes and saw the suffering that religion has wrought on the world. Whatever good people kept claiming arose from religion still did not explain away that suffering. It didn’t add up. So you rejected it, albeit it in your own way. It’s different for all of us. Some of us take different positions on the {god} question: some of still say the prayers and still go to church, some of us are brazenly open about rejecting {god}, and other of us just ignore the topic completely. We all have our own reasons. But the point remains, we don’t accept any immorality purified by religious supposition. Suffering is no virtue.

Same for the people who see that the treatment of animals does not add up, that the unnecessary and cruel experiments conducted on them for whatever supposed purpose does not explain away that cruelty and suffering. Nearly all of us stop eating flesh and some of us go further. We all find different ways of rejecting it. But we all refuse to casually condone suffering and we try to limit our participation in it.

You’ve lived just fine without it.

Whatever good can be accomplished by religious means can also be accomplished through secular means. So it is for those of us who live eating plant-based food, buying products that are not tested on or made out of animals, speaking out against the use of animals for entertainment and spectacle. We are living proof that our lives do not require what everyone else around us has assumed is necessary, our right, or in any way natural. Once we might have and now we definitely do not. Just like we once might have believed in a {god}.

And we’re not only doing just fine, we feel better and look better. Most of all, we know we are not contributing to any fallacious assumption. We know that whatever good can be accomplished by using animals can be accomplished through human ingenuity and compassion.

You detest pious immorality.

Reading the Bible was what made me realize what a cesspool of immorality it is, condoning and promoting mysogyny, slavery, tyranny, and outright hatred. We know the Bible to have been used/is used unrelentingly to justify all this shit. Whatever tradition you were raised in, you’ve seen the same problems. Did you notice that it’s also loaded with animal cruelty?

You’ve rethought most of your interactions in culture to make sure you knew what had come from religion and what had not, what was the pious immorality offered by holy books and what was moral. You should rethink this one too. Because the {god} who casually murders human babies is the same {god} that loves the smell of burnt animal blood.

You know that we’ve all always been connected.

You are connected to life on this planet (or on any planet/asteroid/moon) rather than to some “other realm of consciousness.” As Dr. Tyson says: “we’re all connected: to each other biologically, to the earth chemically, and to the rest of the universe atomically.” Why should we not take this connection seriously? Why should this not include non-human animals? We all came from the same place and have nearly identical chemical profiles. Our resemblance to most mammals is obvious and to our closest cousins unmistakable. Yet we have the notion that we are allowed to inflict suffering and slavery on these creatures at will.

That sounds like something a {god} would do.

You do not hold an isolated perspective because it’s a shared experience.

You’d find a ton in both animal liberation and its adherents to identify with. We put up with a lot of shit and it’s not much different than what atheists put up with: you’ve endured constant intrusion and questioning from your friends and family. You’ve found yourself either a willing or unwilling cultural subversive confounding popular myths of what would happen to you. You’ve had to come up with strategies to protect yourself from the thinly-veiled “invitations” to attend the churches of co-workers and to disguise your discomfort when they make their professions of faith. Your devastation is deep and inconsolable when your friends and family members die around you and you face yourself and those left knowing that it is complete annihilation.

All of these experiences are shared by those who have rejected the idea that animals are ours to do with as we please. We are constantly questioned and berated. Our families take insult at our refusal to eat meat. It’s not about them, but they refuse to accept that. We are constantly on the defensive and sized up when we pass on the meat at the company luncheon or turn down invitations to go hunting with the guys. And we steel our nerves against the casual cruelty of this culture. We know that for the animals it is complete annihilation—the factory farms, the inhumanity of humane farming, the experiments, the bull fighting, the dog fighting, the cock fighting, the rape and infanticide all “dairy” cattle must face, the sacrificial rites of religious practice—and that almost no one is committed to stopping any of it.

You know it has to stop. You know it will never stop.

It only ends if we make it end. Just like religion. And it will not end in our lifetime or in our great-great-great grandchildren’s lifetimes. Just like religion. The inherent injustice and speciousness of religion mirrors the inherent injustice and speciousness of using animals for our own ends. It comes from the same place: us, from the supposed necessities of our species as we fought through the inequities of surviving on this planet.

We are fortunate today that we can live better lives because we do not have to live as our prehistoric ancestors did. We don’t need religion. It makes us worse. We don’t need to hurt or kill animals. It makes us worse and ruins their lives.

Your pleasure should not come at the expense of some other creature. And that’s something {god} should have figured out a long time ago.

I invite you to be better than {him}.



3 responses to “Atheism Has Nothing To Do with Animal Liberation: Why Atheists Should Consider Animal Liberation

  1. This is a thing that I judge myself for. I fully recognise that I have no right to do as I please with animals. In fact, if I had to kill a cow or a pig or a lamb or a chicken myself in order to eat it, I don’t think that I could. And I think that says a lot about where I -really- stand on the issue of animal liberation.
    And I’m pretty confident eating meat is only permissible because so many of us have nothing to do with it. “Meat” and “meat products” is such detached language compared to “the fresh corpse of a being that spent its life as a hostage”.
    And that is what the meat industry is; a mechanised servitude, hostage taking murder machine. And I know this.
    And I agree with Sam Harris’ model of morality, so I certainly know that this is immoral! But I just ate a bacon and beef cheese burger… I know this is hypocrisy. I know this is immoral. And that is the mentality you are up against.

    (For the record, I wouldn’t try the “default position” argument for animal liberation. It’s very difficult to discern where the default position is for a moral issue.)

    • Why not move theory into praxis? I stopped going to church a long time ago. I stopped believing in that one deity and now I believe in one deity fewer than all my christian friends. I do other things now with my time and energy and do not contribute to that trash. It was the same when I stopped eating flesh. Didn’t need it any more. I transitioned away from it and found other things to eat. I both live by the dictates of my conscience and I mitigate actual suffering in the real world. Barely, but that’s as much as I can do. Maybe check out The 30 Day Vegan Challenge if you get a chance:

  2. Pingback: Are Atheists the New Vegans? | Allallt in discussion·

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