CHAPTER VI - What is the Use of Animals?
KEY TO THE PURPOSE OF THE ANIMAL CREATION
“ A sacred kinship I would not forego
binds me to all that breathes.” - Boyesden.
In the Christian
countries of the Western World the question is often asked: “ What is
the use of Animals?” the usual reply being: “ They were given us to
eat.” If we pursue the matter further and question this statement we are
told: “ It says so in the Bible.” Yet there is clearly written in the
first chapter of Genesis a statement purporting to emanate from the Creator indicating
to man what he should eat.
“ And God said:
Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, and every tree in
which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for
In the laws of the
Israelites we read that with certain very definite restrictions they
were allowed to eat the flesh of animals; some people therefore in the
present day consider that this gives them the permission they seek for
the slaughter of animals for food; but if that part of the Law of Moses
is accepted as a guide of life, it would be only logical and consistent
to consider the rest of the standard of morality of the Israelites as
applicable to ourselves, including slavery, polygamy, sacrifice of
animals as expiation and to obtain forgiveness of sins, the
establishment of cities of refuge, outside of which murder is
permissible, the cold-blooded murder of women and children in war, with
the rest of the savagery of the semi-barbarous Children of Israel.
flesh-eaters are consistent enough to openly advocate a return to these
manners and customs.
It is recorded
that the Israelites were permitted to eat the flesh of animals. We also read that these
people during the forty years wanderings in the wilderness were fed on “
manna from heaven,” but their perverted appetites caused them to rebel,
for they still “ lusted after flesh.”
“ And whilst the
flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the
Lord was kindled against the people and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague.
And he called the name of that place Kibroth-hattaavah: because there
they buried the people that lusted” (Num. xi. 33-34). Strange treatment
this of His chosen people by Almighty God, if, as the present-day
flesh-eater asserts, He placed animals on this earth as food for
Further on the
story of Daniel and his companions will be remembered, and how they
would not defile themselves with meat or wine, and how under test
conditions they vindicated the advantages of vegetarian diet. (Dan. i.
In Isaiah it is
written: “ He that killeth an ox shall be in the sight of the Lord as if
he slew a man,” and again - “ The wolf shall dwell with the kid, and the
leopard lie down with the calf, and the lion and sheep shall abide
together, and a little child shall lead them. They shall not hurt, nor
shall they kill in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be filled
with the knowledge of the
Lord, as the covering waters of the sea.”
The Christian era
was established some twenty centuries ago to supersede the Mosaic
dispensation, to abolish the sacrifice of animals, the cruel law of “ An
eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” and introduce a far higher
standard of civilization, morality, love, mercy and brotherhood, the spirit of the
teachings of the New Testament.
was a vegetarian or not is a question on which people differ.
As regards Peter's
vision, the usual explanation is that it was to teach him that there were other people in
the world besides the Jews to whom he should take his message. This
seems borne out by Acts x. 17-35. But for those who wish to argue that
because in his vision St. Peter was told to “ kill and eat,” therefore
we are justified in slaughtering animals for food, I would point out
that though the “ Voice” ordered Peter three times to “ kill and eat” he
flatly refused to do so.
Since the Bible
does not offer any solution of the question “ What is the use of
animals?” no more than it gives explanations of many other subjects on
which we should like information, let us consider the matter from other
points of view.
teaches with very convincing proofs that animals of the present day are
considerably different from those of past ages, that animal life started
from extremely rudimentary forms, having an evolution of its own which
has been going on for millions of years, and that this evolution has not stopped, but
is continually progressing.
Any one who has
any knowledge of animals will agree that they vary very much in
intelligence, the most intelligent being found in the highest branches
of the mammals, as the horse, dog or elephant; so it is not only the
physical forms, but also their mental capacities that are improving, and
this brings one to the question: What is this intelligence in animals, and to what end is its
In the East the
question is answered briefly as follows: It is said that animals are the
physical vehicles of certain classes of spirit, which though essentially
similar to ourselves, is less progressed and at a much lower stage of
development, and in quality of intelligence varies considerably, so that
jelly-fish and the lower forms of animal life are hardly conscious at
all. The indwelling spirit called the group soul, it is said, divides
and inhabits more than one animal body at the same time, so we might
have a group soul at its early stages of physical life with some
thousands of insects for its vehicles; later on the same soul might
reincarnate and function through a few hundred sheep, and still later
inhabit a small number of dogs, and so on, the number of vehicles used
during earth life decreasing as the spirit progresses and is able to use
higher forms of the animal kingdom. The ultimate goal being a state when
individuality would be reached, and the spirit inhabit only one animal,
then at the change of death the now individualized soul, having
successfully completed its long course of training in the animal
kingdom, would pass into a higher evolution in a world where conditions
and vehicles are provided for this earliest type of individualized spirit to continue
its upward progress.
therefore correspond to the development of the spirit that inhabits
them. If we knew enough about the subject, a list might be made from the
lowest to the highest showing the long ladder by which the group soul
climbs upwards. On the lowest rungs would be insects, jelly-fish, and
creatures that are little above vegetables, higher up
and other scavengers with very slightly developed astral vehicles; still
higher, beasts of prey, whose astral bodies are very crude and their
mental vehicles rudimentary; and so on, step by step until the highest
types are reached, as the horse, dog, and the elephant, whose astral and mental vehicles are
far more definitely formed.
The group soul
idea is sometimes illustrated by comparing it to water filling a bucket,
from which one tumblerful is taken to represent the soul of each animal
in the group. During life this becomes coloured by the particular
sensations and experiences of that animal, then at death the tumblerful
is poured back into the bucket, diffusing and slightly colouring the
whole contents. This accounts for instinct in animals. The reason why
birds fear snakes is that many bird lives have been cut short by snakes,
the group soul therefore becomes more and more aware that snakes are
dangerous. Hence the instinct. The group soul thus gives warnings of
perils that have been experienced, whilst a new danger finds the animal
unprepared. If each tumblerful is imagined to shrink in quantity in proportion as it becomes
coloured, the analogy is more complete. Since the increase of
qualities in the group soul will mean less water poured back at death into the
bucket, then fewer and fewer tumblerfuls can be taken out to inhabit new
animal bodies, which must also be of more developed type to hold with
safety the more concentrated liquid.
This theory also
explains why the individual members of flocks and herds act so
similarly, since they probably all belong to the same group soul, and it
gives a working hypothesis for many other animal characteristics.
Let us now
investigate as far as our knowledge permits the conditions and
circumstances of the evolution of the animal kingdom from the physical
plane point of view, and try and place before our minds the very
difficult problem that had to be solved in arranging for the evolution
obviously two distinct periods of animal evolution.
animals are left to themselves in lands to which civilized man has not
animals and civilized man inhabit the same country.
We will first
consider the situation in countries to which civilized man, if he
existed, had not penetrated.
of the case were:
To provide some
inducement to cause the animals to take violent exercise and so develop
their bodies and also to exercise their rudimentary minds.
To prevent their increasing at too
great a rate and causing overcrowding.
To make sanitary arrangements for
the disposal of the injured, sick and dead creatures.
The very wonderful
solution of these difficulties was to arrange that some of the species
should be flesh-eaters, others herbivorous and frugivorous. If these
types had been placed in different lands the problem would have remained
unsolved, as doubtless the carnivora would soon have devoured each other
and become extinct.
If the offspring
of one pair of rabbits were to survive, there would be in less than a
century, descended from that couple, many millions. So the
non-flesh-eaters would soon have multiplied to such an extent as not to
leave themselves a fair chance of surviving, and thus would have
perished. Nature, however, has mixed the two species in exactly the
The carnivora, the
snakes, tigers, lions and such creatures, provide the stimulant which
causes the other animals to exercise their muscles, sight, and hearing
to the utmost, and at the same time what little mind they have is called on to work at
its fullest capacity.
Those of the
hunted who are least capable of battling against the hardships of life
are continually weeded out, and as time goes on the species is bound to
improve physically and mentally, and this reacts on the hunter, the carnivora, because
as the hunted improve it is absolutely necessary for the hunter to keep
pace in mind and body, or he will be left behind and starve.
Then the greater development of
these animals of prey causes increased development in those preyed on,
and so on.
prehistoric and present-day animals in lands where civilized man has not
settled shows how strongly this point comes out. In the words of
science, it is “ the struggle for existence” and “ the survival of the
fittest.” This arrangement largely disposes of the danger of
overcrowding, supplemented as it is by those powerful weapons, climate and atmospheric changes, so
freely used by Nature.
about sanitary arrangements is removed by the carnivora, who are the
disposers of the bodies of the decrepit or sick animals. One may look on
the lions, tigers, vultures, jackals, etc., with the armies of small
creatures and insects that live on dead bodies, as Nature's most
sanitary and efficient crematoria.
This is one of
Nature's most marvellous arrangements. Think of the innumerable birds,
fishes, insects, and animals that, having lived their lives, die daily,
and yet how rare it is to see a dead creature. For with all these
corpses to be disposed of one would expect to find them everywhere, for
parts of the sea, streams and land to be polluted, and pestilences to
occur, but such results are unknown except where Nature is interfered
with by man.
It would seem that
having in this way brought the animal evolution, chiefly as regards
form, up to a certain point, the Creator decided that for further and quicker progress a
complete change in the system and in the nature of the stimulant to
evolution was necessary for certain animals, and called in civilized man
to assist in this higher work. Some people are accustomed to think that
everything in the universe is provided and intended solely for the
comfort and convenience of Man, but this attitude is a mistake. Man is
certainly the most highly evolved creature we are aware of, but there
are others also in process of evolution, and other evolutions to be
considered. The most thoughtless must see that much that happens is not
altogether to Man's advantage, as fogs, storms, earthquakes, volcanic
eruptions, and other disturbances.
So it should not
be a novel kind of idea to suggest that possibly the subhuman kingdoms
of animals are not intended entirely for man's benefit; but that Man, a being more highly
evolved, is purposely brought into contact with them, and is intended to
act so that animal evolution may be hastened, and pass to higher stages
than was previously possible. And this is the point I wish now to
discuss, and to show that it is not only Man's plain duty, but his high
privilege to assist on the upward path, spirit, now manifest in the
First consider the way in which
civilized Man of the Western World has acted, when he has settled in
countries inhabited by wild animals.
Man in the past has largely
exterminated the ferocious types. This was necessary as civilized life spread
over the world's surface.
He has tamed and
trained certain animals which he finds useful for agriculture, personal
use, and companionship, and thus has rightly lent his aid.
Others he uses for
food, and to prevent the species becoming extinct he arranges for their
breeding and increasing in large numbers, so that he may fatten, kill,
and then eat their dead bodies at his convenience. Others animals he
trains and preserves for sport, so that he may have the amusement of
hunting and slaying.
In all cases his
only thought has been what advantage or pleasure he may gain, the
advantage or disadvantage to the animal race being entirely left out of
Now if this were
the correct treatment the Creator intended Man to mete out, when he was called in to
co-operate with the animal evolution, we should find the animals steadily
improving beyond the stage reached before Man appeared on the scene. But
we notice that very many sorts are not improving either physically or
mentally; domestic cattle are a case in point, the breed is not
advancing in powers of sight, hearing, etc., or in intelligence, but on
the contrary is degenerating.
“ As stupid as a
cow” and “ As silly as a sheep” are common expressions, and the word “
pig” is one of contempt. These may be getting fatter and fatter; a cow
may be developing into a machine for producing the greatest quantity of
milk in the shortest possible time; sheep may be developing towards
prime mutton; pigs accustoming themselves more and more to eat any filth
and convert it into flesh, but all this does not tend to upward
In the present day
thinking people in England are much disturbed at the increasing amount
of disease in our midst; and scientific men are proving more and more
clearly that these diseases originate not in Man alone, but very largely
in animals kept in captivity, that is without the amount of exercise and
“ roughing it” that is suitable for them, then these animals are eaten by Man, who
thus eats disease.
Scientists tell us
that according to his structure “ Man is neither carnivorous nor
herbivorous. He has neither the teeth of the cudchewer nor their
intestines. If we consider these organs in man, we must conclude him by nature to be
frugivorous, as is the ape.”
So we have
domestic animals of the classes that are eaten becoming more and more
stupid, and the people who eat them becoming more and more diseased.
This is Nature's way of speaking to us, and we know
that when we
disobey her laws, she has a disagreeable way of bestowing punishment on
the wrongdoer, without allowing any excuses such as “ I did not think,”
“ I did not know.” This is Nature's way of stimulating our reasoning
faculties. Is not she shouting at us that we are by our cruel treatment retarding animal
evolution, neglecting our duty, and acting in exactly the opposite manner to what
is expected of us?
Let us now return
to where we left the animal creation at its introduction to civilized
Man, and see if we cannot reason out where he has gone off the track of
The animals by
themselves had reached a certain stage of development, and now civilized
Man is given the great responsibility of “ dominion over them.” The
higher being Man, replacing the carnivora, who have served their turn,
the old forces of fear and hunger are to be abolished for the new
stimulants of work and discipline, applied by Man with wisdom and
There is clear
proof on this point, for when animals are trained, and kindly treated,
we see Nature's strong approval, for by the stimulating forces of work,
discipline and selection, animal evolution advances rapidly; a few
instances of such are - the extraordinary sagacity, good temper and
usefulness of trained elephants in India, the magnificent specimens of
horses in England, and the intelligence and good temper of dogs.
On the other hand
there are many instances where Man has dismally failed in his duty.
Cattle are bred, housed, and fed under good conditions, but to the end
that they may have bodies of the maximum size and fatness attainable,
and when this is reached they are slaughtered with more or less cruelty,
and their carcasses consumed by Man, who thus unnaturally places himself
on the low level of the carnivore.
strong disapproval, as already pointed out, appears in the numerous diseases from which
Again, is it possible to imagine a
greater wrong than vivisection? We all condemn the Inquisitors, who
tortured human beings, yet we read that those men thought they were acting
in the best interests of our race, and even believed that they were doing
God's service. Vivisectors may honestly think that their cruelty leads
to knowledge which is useful, but doctors disagree: some say it is
useful, others equally distinguished in
their profession state that it is
absolutely useless. Whatever the use it cannot be justified.
We English pride
ourselves on “ fair play” and “ playing the game” and consider most
contemptible the strong who use their power to oppress and exploit the
weak, whom they should in honour protect. The bribe offered by the vivisectors to dull
the conscience and harden the heart, to condone and permit this cruel
practice, is, that by it may perhaps be obtained remedies for disease -
each of which in turn proves fallacious. Even if it were true that
remedies could be so procured, and disease cured, the spiritually minded
would reject them. Far better is it for the physical body to suffer or
die, honourably, than to live dishonoured at the expense of the torture and
misery of subhuman creatures.
It is on record
that in the sixteenth century at Pisa (in Italy) certain criminals were
delivered into the hands of the vivisectors, who were free to make any
experiment they liked on these unfortunate people. It will be remembered
that this was long before the days of chloroform or other anaesthetics!
One shudders to think of the end of these unfortunates.
In the year 1912 a
vivisector was applauded when he lectured, in London, on experiments he
had made on women and children, by inoculating them with a loathsome
disease, these poor people, inmates of his hospital, being in his power
and at his mercy.
Facts such as these show to what
depths of wickedness vivisection may lead.
Sporting people are usually kind and
sensible in their treatment of horses and dogs, but when it comes to
hunting it is another matter. Of course so far as discipline goes,
learning to work together, to obey orders, etc., all this makes for
evolution, but starving these animals, feeding them on raw flesh so as
to make them savage enough to hunt down the prey, is against evolution,
and presses the hound backwards towards the wolf from which his
species has evolved.
Is it any wonder
that the progress of Man has been slow when we find still enacted upon
the children the barbarous and revolting custom of “ blooding” (the
besmearing of the child's face with the warm blood of the hunted fox).
Surely such an act must nullify the spirit of justice inherent in all,
and create an illusion in the mind of that child that such is right and
In human affairs a
ruler, or governing body, is judged good or bad according to the
condition of the people ruled. If a visitor from some other world came
to see how the animal kingdom was getting on under Man's guidance, what
would he find? Shops with rows of bleeding carcasses exposed for sale,
slaughterhouses and the organized massacre of nearly 1,000,000 creatures daily,
cattle-ships hastening with cargoes of flesh to different parts of the
world. He would also see vivisection laboratories in countries that
consider themselves most advanced.
What would he
think of Man - the ruler - who, when asked to consider these unnecessary
sufferings and cruelties, refuses, saying, “ I like meat and don't
care,” “ I am content with things as they are” ; or of people who while
merciless to animals themselves, offer thanks to the Creator for His mercies to them, before sitting
down to their meals of flesh.
The question, “
Who are the rulers in this matter?” is easily answered. Every human
being is a member of the governing body, and has power and
On most great
questions of the day the ordinary individual feels that he is but as a
drop in the ocean, and that he is quite helpless in altering things, however clearly he may see
what should be done.
But on this
question of mercy to animals, each one of us as soon as he or she has considered the matter can
proceed to action and cause considerable results.
Each one can cease
to participate in cruelty, and can personally give up flesh-eating; then
at once so many fewer creatures would be slaughtered
for food, because the numbers born and slaughtered are entirely
regulated by the commercial laws of supply and demand. Friends and
relatives will notice the alteration in our way of living, and, if we
are tactful, will consider the matter, and often follow our example. It
is general experience that all who have thought out for themselves these
humane ideas and put them into practice, become keenly anxious to spread
the information of the benefits they have found to follow.
I appeal to each
reader to personally think this subject out, and if the arguments I have
endeavoured to express seem reasonable, to join the increasing army of
those who are giving up flesh-eating and making a stand against all
forms of cruelty, so working for the good both of the human and
We may be perfectly
certain that we shall not suffer as individuals or as a nation, if we
forthwith change our ways and act up to our plain duty and privilege in assisting the
evolution of the Animal creation.