Why does God let animal cruelty? 42.

Updated on August 20, 2023

Besides saying that God created animals and giving humans dominion over them, the Bible is silent on the subject of why God made animals (Genesis 1:26). God obviously did not

choose to spare animals from pain and suffering, for whatever reasons he may have. Why?

Differences between animal and human suffering

Many of the standard explanations offered for why humans suffer are useless when applied to animals, making the problem of animal suffering even more problematic than the problem of human suffering.

Christians, for instance, often argue that all human suffering can be traced back to original sin and that this is so because everyone is a sinner. Contrarily, animals have never sinned against God and so they should not be punished as if they share our guilt. They appear to be innocent bystanders in a conflict between humans and the divine.

Some Christians argue that suffering is essential for human development, but what does free will even mean in the context of an animal?

Also, some Christians justify animal cruelty by saying that we humans will be rewarded eternally in heaven, but they never address the question of what eternal reward awaits animals.

Has God committed harsh acts toward animals?

The fact that many fatal diseases and birth deformities are limited to only a few species should be the greatest cause for concern when it comes to animal suffering. It’s as if God decided that predation and accidental death weren’t enough to torment animals, so he created specific germs, viruses, parasites, and diseases to compound their pain.

Disease Caused by a Facial Tumor in Tasmanian DevilsConsider again the Tasmanian Devil we were discussing previously. The odds of him living were already stacked against him at birth, according to the low quality of the design. However, the remaining members of the species are highly susceptible to catching Devil Facial Tumour Disease, a highly contagious illness that results in massive growths on the devil’s face, making it impossible for them to see or feed.

Why? Why is God punishing this poor animal for no apparent reason?

Is it possible that its forefathers ate the apple of knowledge? Is it possible that the hardships it has through have strengthened its faith? Or facilitate its exploration of the full range of its agency?

Why did God make the animals suffer if he only made this planet for humans?

What kind of God would torture animals?

As Christians, we should be very troubled by the idea that God allows innocent animals to suffer for no reason of their own. If God allows the innocent to suffer, how can we think that he would reward the guilty?

God’s benevolence is called into question if the innocent are made to suffer unjustly, since a good God would never allow unnecessary pain to be inflicted on anybody. As a result, believers have come up with many explanations to explain why a good God would allow human misery to be extended to innocent animals.

There is no pain for animals!”

René Descartes, a prominent Catholic thinker of the 17th century, once claimed that animals were indistinguishable from machines and therefore did not experience pain because they lacked a soul (an idea that later became widely accepted).

Some contemporary theistic philosophers, including Michael Murray, maintain that animals do not have the same capacity for suffering as humans (a highly controversial philosophy).


To the contrary, Professor Bernard Rollin jokes that anyone who doubts that animals experience pain should try squeezing the balls of a giant doberman to see if the dog reacts.

Although animals can’t verbalise their experience of pain, it can be deduced from their behaviour. Dogs feel pain just like humans do; anyone who has walked on a dog’s paw or tail can attest to this. Animals show pain through vocalisation, withdrawal, and behavioural changes. Animals can also feel pleasure, as seen by a dog’s reaction to having his belly stroked.

Since of their similarities to human beings in anatomy and neuroscience, and because they show improvement after being given the same painkillers that people do, we can also deduce that animals experience pain. Given these parallels, it is not only intuitive but also supported by a large body of research from reputable sources that animals experience pain.

I can attest to the fact that I once saw a dog get ran over by a car firsthand. For some minutes he just laid there in the roadway, yowling in misery (in much the same way a human would). One could never look at this creature and conclude, “That dog didn’t actually experience pain because he has no soul!” The sorrow of that would have been magnified if he had any sense of self-awareness at all. That dog was obviously capable of suffering, to whatever extent it was. It’s also possible that a lack of awareness of oneself contributes to the complexity and tension of experiencing pain.

Possibly, “Animals have a place in paradise.”

There are many Christian theologians who have dismissed this idea:

Because they are material, not spiritual, “their souls are irrational” while “our souls are reasonable.”

No, animals cannot be said to have souls if by “soul” we mean an immortal spirit that will spend eternity in either paradise or hell. According to God’s Word, this is the only logical conclusion to be made.

Moreover, the Bible appears to divide humanity into human and animal categories:

Different species have different types of meat, including humans, mammals, birds, and fish.
Verse 39 of 1 Corinthians

However, these individuals blaspheme on topics over which they have little knowledge. They have no higher purpose in life than to be caught and killed, just like the animals they so closely resemble.
2 Peter 2:12

According to this logic, a person goes to paradise while a chimpanzee “perishes,” even if a 40-year-old chimpanzee is far more intelligent and has endured more pain than a 3-day-old baby.

On the other hand, suppose animals really do go to heaven.

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Let’s pretend for a second that this is the case only for fun. The implications of this are far-reaching and intriguing. Elephants? Horses? Apes? Chimps? Dogs? Cats? Snakes? Rats? Birds? Mice? Mosquitoes? Ants? Gnats? Plants? Amoebas? Bacteria? Does God have limits, or is there no limit at all?

Does every cell in my body go to heaven if single-celled organisms are permitted in? Or did they only house the souls of those who died there? (Because they have done well for me and merit a break from my constant yelling.)

If single-celled organisms aren’t allowed in heaven, at what point does a mammal become eligible? 10? 1000? 1,000,000?

Maybe it’s not a question of how many cells you have, but how smart you are. How much more valuable to God is the 40-year-old chimpanzee than the 3-day-old infant, if that is indeed the case?

And what about marine life, you ask, anglerfish?

Where do whales and dolphins go when they die? Do you fancy some fish? Do we really need to have ugly fish? Comparable to the anglerfish? Or, does hell await ugly fish? Is there a sea in heaven for the residents there? Or do they simply orbit us in the afterlife? I mean, even the ugly ones? Simply put, I don’t want to be surrounded by ugly fish in paradise.

So, what about animals that have since gone extinct?

Will the heavenly realm be populated by helpful dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and trilobites?

And finally, even if all animals did go to heaven, no amount of heavenly reparations could ever change the fact that what God did to them was wrong. If a man murders a child, no amount of apologies or reparations will ever justify his murder, the act will always be wrong. Even if we come to forgive the murderer, that doesn’t mean we think murdering children is okay — his actions were still wrong, and they forever will be. Likewise, even if all the animals forgive God for torturing them when they were not guilty, it will always be wrong for God to have done so.

Allowing animals into heaven may help us feel better about their suffering, but it’s not Biblical, and it seems to raise more issues than it solves. And even if God did allow animals into heaven, it doesn’t change the fact that what God did was wrong.

Animals are important to human survival.

The vast majority of animal species are not essential to human survival. If conditions in Eden had been ideal for animals, God would have left them there even after expelling Adam.

But even if humans need animals to survive (and God couldn’t come up with any other solution), that doesn’t explain why he didn’t make them all herbivores to reduce their pain (and constant fear of being hunted). Also, it doesn’t clarify why he would deliberately expose children to different diseases.

The animals should be thankful that God didn’t make things much worse, the saying goes.

The Calvinist view holds that animals, like humans, are fundamentally deficient beings who should count themselves fortunate to receive any grace from God at all. However, I contend that God’s inherent goodness requires him to show mercy, especially to the most defenceless members of his creation.

As a last resort argument

Believers can always fall back on the “there must be an explanation, even if we don’t know what it is” argument when everything else fails. Here’s how this line of thinking sounds:

We believe God is fair, and that when we reach heaven, we’ll accept His verdict on this matter without question.

This is equivalent to stating, “Don’t worry if God’s behaviour appears illogical and terrible; just keep believing! And when you die, you’ll find there really was a good reason for all those animals to suffer, just as there really was a good reason for God to allow children to be raped and murdered! There’s no absurdity God can’t explain away! ”

As I’ve said before, if we accept that all nonsense can be explained away in the afterlife, then all religions become equally viable, since all their absurdities (the reasons we have come to denounce them) can also be explained away in the afterlife.


There are just two cases I can think of where causing animals pain would be acceptable, and even those are problematic.

First of all, animals don’t really feel pain. God would be deceiving us if animal pain were an illusion. Why would God trick us, anyway?

I think it’s fair that animals be treated cruelly. Since animals lack the capacity for deliberate evil, the only reasonable explanation is that they once possessed the ability to sin before becoming animals. However, this seems highly improbable if animals lack immortal souls (and since most Christians reject the concept of reincarnation).

Slain infant gorilla

God, if he exists, gives off the impression of being a sadist because he seems to enjoy bringing about human suffering for no good reason. Animals, the capacity to feel pain, predators, and even specialised bacteria, viruses, and parasites were not necessities, but God created them all anyway.

Although, there may be a good explanation that God knows that we don’t that we don’t know. Even if he does, he has still set us up in a false situation, one that leads us to believe he is bad, because only a malicious creator would subject his creations to such cruelty. We can only go on what we have experienced, and what God has given us to experience is a world that testifies falsely against its “benevolent” maker.

Animal suffering, if there is no God, is evidence that all life is equal before the natural order, which is what evolution teaches us. There is no hierarchy in nature; all living things are treated with the same contempt.

Inevitably, humans will meet the same end as the rest of the animal kingdom. All living things share the same air, so humans are no better than animals.








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