The Case for Animal Suffering (Or Why I Want Fat Chickens)

I’ve been a little slow digesting the latest episodes of Point of Inquiry, so my interaction here is going to require us to consider something that was recorded in August. By internet standards, I might as well be returning to the dark ages. That was so yesterday. Nevertheless, the issue is a hot one, and so for that reason, I suppose I can be forgiven.

The issue is animal suffering. But not just any old animal suffering. It is the kind that occurs in factory farms.

Now if you give our dear secularists a listen, you’ll quickly come to see that they care a lot about chickens. Tears aren’t shed or anything like that. But they do express deep concern. And in the case of Paul Shapiro, he has put his money where his mouth is. He’s been a serious advocate of animal rights, seeking to establish more humane animal laws.

Fair enough.

But then again, really? I mean , we’re talking about chickens, right? And we’re talking about chickens in a godless world (their worldview (and by “their” I mean the predominant view of the podcast and its listeners)).

Let’s think about this for a moment.

I like big, fat, juicy chickens. The bigger the better because more meat = more, well, meat. And that spells more tastiness. I like to chomp on the legs, sit back, burp and contemplate the feeling of satisfaction. If my belly isn’t full, the pleasure factor diminishes greatly.

Now if attaining that result requires a chicken to sit a long time in an uncomfortably cramped cage with an IV stuck in its leg filling it full of breast bursting steroids, so what? Given atheism, why care so much? No. Seriously. Why in the world should we care that much?

I don’t doubt that some reasons could be given. We can all voice our preferences. But in a universe governed by the game of survival and the hope of pleasure, filling our bellies with an abundance of meat makes far more sense than worrying about the emotional scars some chicken might acquire while growing plump in a tight space.

What happens to the chicken is of no serious consequence. None, really.

I suppose a few don’t want to see them suffer first hand. Ok. Fair enough. But that’s where the “hardened” factory farm worker comes to the rescue. They raise them. Prepare them. And the tenderhearted secularist can pick up the final product in the freezer section.

It’s a win-win situation. Our survival and pleasure is heightened.

The chicken gets the short end of the stick, but that’s just life. Bigger and stronger and smarter animals have been preying on tasty slower animals for a very, very long time.

So I ask my secular humanists: Why care so much? Or, maybe I should ask it this way: Why should we feel ethically compelled to treat chickens more kindly (on atheism)?


  1. Chris Cole October 6, 2015 at 10:50 am #

    It is true that our survival and pleasure are heightened, and that is a moral positive in itself. However, i would go further, and refer to Proverbs 12:10: “A righteous man regards the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” Both Christians and atheists often act contrary to their worldviews. As you say, the atheist has no grounds for ascribing immorality to any method of husbandry. On the other hand, I don’t see many Christians quoting this Scripture, when, for example, opposing dog-fighting, etc. Those who do so seem always to use a humanistic justification.

    • Austin Brown October 6, 2015 at 4:58 pm #

      Thanks, Chris. Good add.

    • Scott Steele October 7, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

      I love that passage, as well as the question to Jonah that was posed to him by the Lord at the end of the book. I think they both illustrate important aspects of what we need to be considering as people made in the image of God, given a command and duty to wisely rule over God’s creation as good stewards and His subordinate rulers, granted dominion over His possession (including all the animals He has created).

Leave a Reply