Podcast: Jane Goodall and Francis Collins | Being Human

I’m only a baby Christian. Go easy on me. My understanding of that passage was that God wanted to instruct Peter to ignore the Jewish laws around interaction with Gentiles, but more broadly the Jewish laws on “uncleanness” overall. But I do not think God would have given such a message if He considered it sinful, wrong or evil to kill and eat animals.

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Sorry Russell2. Yeah, God has bigger fish to fry. Being kind to your beasts is very Leviticus. So is genocide of course.

Are you trying to equate predation with genocide? Death and consumption - these things drive the vitality of the living world. The wish of some vegans to recreate the world in their image has long struck me as hubristic and dismissive of vast unacknowledged orders of value. Apart from the ecological role of predation and more broadly death and decomposition, there is the evolutionary role.

“What but the wolf’s tooth whittled so fine
The fleet limbs of the antelope?
What but fear winged the birds, and hunger
Jewelled with such eyes the great goshawk’s head?”

(Robson Jeffers)

As an agnostic I found those thoughts compelling enough, but believing now the natural order to be God’s work, I find the abolitionist vegan position even more troublesome.

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Fret not Russell2. Don’t take me seriously : ) I’m fascinated that the first testament can be immensely sentimental about our in-group animals (‘THOU art the man!’) and obscenely violent toward out-group humans. It’s so… human. I’m a plant and bird spotter, an amateur naturalist, with a degree in biological sciences, only professionally applied in microbiology. The skill of hunting is one I admire. Clean kill shots of non-breeding, abundant animals in the wild; I’m fine with that. I would never do it unless I had to. I’m not so fine with fishing with hooks, but live and let live. The false religion of veganism, animal rights and ignorant environmentalism is not for me, but I’d happily ban intensive meat farming tomorrow for… environmental and animal welfare reasons. And no, that isn’t hypocrisy : ) It’s nuanced. And by God’s work I’m an existential Christian.


There is a big difference between something being a sin and something being unnecessary. I don’t think it’s a sin to eat animals. I don’t think it’s a sin to roast dogs alive. But I still think those things are unethical and unnecessary.

It also has nothing to do with thinking God manipulated evolution in any way or that some magical fall is
The cause of death. It comes down to this point.

  1. Do you need to eat animals? The answer is no.
  2. Do you need to wear animals? The answer is no.

So someone eating veal and lobster and wearing a leopard coat with alligator boots is not doing it for survival but pleasure. It’s easy to for me to then decide well I don’t want these animals dying just so I can their corpse. It’s not because I think I’ll be destroyed in hell for eating a cooked carcass but it’s because I want to minimize the loss of life. In america, the main loss of animal life is factory farming. There will still be life loss that we can’t do much about unless we live on a self sustainable farm and use no machinery or chemicals. But there is no need for extremes. Veganism is not a extreme. We also don’t need animal activists to tell us these things. We already know that commercialization of anything results in issues. We already know that in order to eat a patty or nugget requires that animal to have died.

But again none of this is a sin. None of this is a byproduct of God influencing nature. None of it is a byproduct of a fall. It’s just evolution, culture and preferences.

My main issue is not using chimps to help create a vaccine unless it’s not needed. My issue is not that sometimes to restore ecology to a habitat we must remove some of the deer by killing them because we drove out all then natural predators andnso deer safely over breed and damage the habitat. My issue is not that some animals are lost due to harvesting , driving and so on. After all when we buy veggies from a store it means habitat was loss somewhere killing animals , that was then farmed using pesticides, even organic killing animals that was then harvested by a machine killing small rodents and so on which was then transported which means some animals was killed by tires and dropped off at a store which was built over what use to be a habitat. Nothing we can really do about that short of a extreme of living a self sustained life on a farm handpicking everything and most likely living without electricity and so on. That’s a extreme. But getting people to recognize they eat animals not because they have too, but because they want to and then building on that to eliminate them carrying it out is not a extreme. Getting people to realize they don’t need to eat meat 10 times a week ( for many it’s around 20 times a week) and that they can reduce it to a few times a month or just cut it out completely.

We also point out the conditions in which animals are dying. Peta mostly uses personal conviction and logic tp get individuals to stop. They use more assertive and disruptive tactics to get businesses to stop. They almost never protest a persons diet. They protest bad business practices.

Consider 101 Dalmatians. Short of Cruella trying to steal puppies i don’t think we can say it was sinful. But most of us can see why the lady who wanted to murder 100ish puppies for their soft fur in order to make a coat was the villian. Or when we watched Bambi. The hunter was probably not a
Vile evil man. He was just a hunter. But we can see why the hunter was the villain for killing off the deer. Though when he took in that one deer and raised it in order to release it so that it could be tracked to the other deer was a bit cruel within the context of the story. Same thing for A pig named Babe and Chicken Run.

Also just because the Bible permits something does not mean it’s good. I could go to some third world village and trade a bunch of stuff for some teenage woman and she becomes my bride because her dad says so and it would not necessarily break away from any one biblical tradition but it would still be something I considered very backwards and disgusting .

@SkovandOfMitaze by dismissing God as irrelevant to this issue you’ve just laid out a secular argument for vegan activism. There is much I could say in secular response but that would be off-topic here. I can’t resist one little point though.

Have you read the original Bambi, by Eric Salten? There are some striking differences between that that and Disney’s adaptation, that went on to frame thoughts about the living world for generations of ecologically alienated urban consumers to come.

In Disney’s version, the woods were a picture of harmony. There was no death or harm or suffering or fear in the ecosystem proper. Only by the illegitimate intrusion of Man did those “evils” manifest. (Fall narrative, much!) In contrast Salten painted a vivid picture of interspecies violence and terror, so much so that modern editions putting it forth as a childrens’ book possibly miss the mark.

And, in Disney’s version Man just kills 'em all and burns down the entire forest. Whereas, Salten’s original ends with poignant scenes of understanding and redemption, as Bambi and his father come across a dead poacher and Bambi learns that Man is not some extraordinary evil marauder, but instead is “just the same as we. He has the same fears, the same needs, and
suffers in the same way.”

Does not matter. I was showcasing how Disney , and the book, portrayed who the villain was.

God is not a necessary argument for anything. Bringing God into a argument over science just simply means the person is not understanding the science. There is no evidence that God directed evolution. Genesis is a myth. It’s not literal. It’s not scientific , historical or accurate. There was no immortal beings living in a garden that a talking snake ruined causing a fall.

So you can’t say “ god says predation is predation is good because it happens in nature. Wild animals eat kids and parasites kill people and some things like prions causes deformities and death.

Animals have lower emotional intelligence, cognitive processes and critical thinking skills. Just because two victors fight so the winner can have sex with the woman in the animal world does not somehow prove goodness. There is nothing wrong with secular reasoning either. Secular reasoning is perfectly fine. Most of our reasoning is secular.

Our pastor preached this morning on relevant issues regarding God’s ownership and our responsibilities in creation. It was such a good sermon. If you are looking for a service to watch online today, you can see at discoverfirst.com and go to live broadcast, the next service is at 10:30 with the sermon starting about 10:50 or so (central time, in about an hour from this post.


Can it be watched when it’s not live? Or is it only able to be watched as live? I’m heading out to go hiking but would like to watch later. I’ll check the site also to see if it has a past section.

It takes a day or so for the IT staff to put it on the sermon archive, but should be there in a few days. He preached on Deuteronomy 10:14-18 for the most part. Stepped on toes, but also on the joy of living knowing the earth is the Lord’s.


An Anglican minister, Arthur Broome, helped organize the first Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in England in Victorian times. It was the first organization of its kind in the world. It became the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and inspired similar organizations around the world.

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I’d be interested in listening also.

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I also tried to check it out. Good to know there is a lag time as with most Zoom derived videos. Thanks for sharing.

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I brought God in because the project behind this forum and this podcast is concerned with relations between science and Christianity.

Secular reasoning is OK but it must be realised that science is not capable of answering “ought” questions (or, ultimately, “why” questions). This is why secular moral philosophers don’t just say “look to the science”. Instead, they perform mental gymnastics trying to conjure, out of pure reason, theories that we might trust as morally authoritative.

For example, Jane Goodall credits Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation for her turn to vegetarianism. Singer is a key figure in moral utilitarianism, that operates from the naked assertion that “ought” questions can be referred to an accountant who can tot up all the suffering and enjoyment that any decision would cause.

Only having made one or more blind assertions to frame a moral theory, can you then try to use science to inform attempts to apply the theory. But in the absence of any supreme moral authority, there will always be other philosophers who go for different defining assertions, for example, Kantian ethics begin with the Categorical Imperative.

And then they will argue - despite having the same data.

And how will they resolve their arguments? Often, by thought experiments that (in my cynical view) judge moral theories according to how closely their conclusions accord with our gutfeel. Which renders one rather skeptical of them having any predictive / extrapolative power and makes you wonder if they’re just there to add a lustre of reason to gutfeel.

To give you an example, Goodall’s pal Singer has been criticized for endorsing (by mechanical adherence to his theory) infanticide and “consensual” bestiality.

When I was agnostic, I was ok with the fact that my own moral thought was built ultimately on arbitrary gutfeel. But it becomes fairly problematic when people with different gutfeel start pushing to enforce their perspective and sanction offenders using state power (the law).

As a new Christian I’m still coming to grips with the implications of that for moral reasoning.

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I’m not going to respond to anything that’s not relevant specifically to the podcast. I’m sure there are already threads dedicated to issues of biblical ethics and if not, or it’s already closed, it would make a good thread.

Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind is essential reading. Never underestimate the explanatory power of gutfeel.

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Would you believe that the Nazis actually drafted laws to protect animals? It’s true, even though they were as cruel as the devil. Shows you what they thought of “inferior races” – even lower than the animals. Of course, that was a pretty unusual situation, since people who are cruel to animals are cruel to other people. The child who starts abusing animals often ends up as a serial killer. In some states when police respond to an animal cruelty complaint they are required to look for child abuse in the home. And abusive husband/partners often control their women by threatening their pets.

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I’m afraid I would. I have a bad habit of following and engaging in the social media of groups trying to outlaw hunting (for food) where I live. In almost every thread, someone ends up letting slip that they think vegans are “more evolved” than meat eaters. Labels like “brutal”, “Neanderthal”, “primitive”, “cave man”, “savage” and so on come up in almost every comment stream. Horseshoe theory would appear to be correct. What both poles have in common is they essentially make gods of themselves.

I just finally had a chance to sit down and listen yesterday to the full conversation and it was so excellent!

I made note of these quotes:

Only when the head and the heart work in harmony, can we attain our true human potential


Jane, You are such an example of what we when we’re facing conflict ought to try to do which is to listen to each other. Try not to go in with all sorts of attacks and verbal abuse of each other. And instead try to understand and to be recognizing that everybody has a history that they brought to that table.

I also love that in a friendship, you are always finding out new things about each other, like when Jane said, “I don’t know if I’ve told you this story, Francis…”


I don’t think we’re more evolved but we’re doing our small part for the planet by being plant-based.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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