Must Man’s contretemps with God plague the Animal World?
Posted on November 1st, 2012

R Chandrasoma

The ritual sacrifice of animals has a long history and is intimately linked to the problematic relation of man to his God or Creator. The latter was ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” in its archaic or primitive conception ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” a Rule-Giver wont to punish severely those who disobeyed him. It must, surely, come as no surprise that some of the more ardent God-believers pre-empted the divine action by self-inflicted harm ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” a parody of GodƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s impending retribution. This notion of mortifying the flesh to appease an enraged God is a ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”displacement activityƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ in the jargon of Freudean psychology ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” the impending punishment in hell is ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”forestalled ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…” by a token punishment in the realm of mundane things. Self-Immolation is an extreme version of this reaction ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” in which the supplicant undergoes an agonizing death to symbolize his total abnegation when confronted with majesty and power of God

That ancient societies were power-based hierarchies is a well established fact and it should come as no surprise learn that poor and humble surrogates were chosen to bear the pain and punishment that was truly the legacy of another.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Human sacrifice was common in ancient societies and had a two-fold significance ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” that moral burdens or ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”sinsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ could be transferred to a powerless and innocent fellow-being that acted as a ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”vectorƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ in amortizing the sins of another.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  With advances in civilization, this barbaric practice of sacrificing humans to appease God became too gross for even the ardent champions of blind servitude to God. Other means of testing zealotryƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  were eagerly sought. The notion of a ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”scapegoatƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ – an animal such as a goat or bullockƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  -ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  arose naturally in circumstances where the sacrificial killing of fellow-humans seemed too gross to contemplate butƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  the killing of a large animal as a symbolic substitute for human sacrifice seemed acceptable as a ritualizedƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  submission to the magistracy of the Great God above.

All this is ancient lore and we live in a world where an educated public fully accepts the co-sovereignty of man and his fellow-species in the preservation of our fragile planetary habitat.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Alas, the sad truth is that millions of animals are killed to appease God in large parts of the world where religious zelotry and an anachronistic innocence in matters of faith and belief have a clear ascendency over the right to life of fellow-creatures that live and breed as we do. Not only are contless numbers killed so that we can live piously, an equal number are raised to be killed – a denial of of the intent of the Creator if such a being truly rules the Universe. Tens of thousands of cattle and goats are raised In Australia for export to those countries that practice the ritual slaughter of these animals. Surely theseƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ fellow-creatures were not made by God to be killed in his name. Indeed, the belief that a designed creature of GodƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  must be killed to make things good for an erring or delinquent species with claims to an elevated moral sense seems nonsensical. Is not the idea that our moral lapses must be paid off by animal suffering an aberration in our own thinking that cannot have any warrant in true belief? Just as self-injury or sacrifice in the name of God was replaced by the sacrifice of a hapless substitute, the ritual sacrifice of animal species that have no truck with human affairs must give way to a symbolic wounding that preserves life while sanctifying the act. If there is a God above he will surely prefer this refined expression of contrition to the carnage we now witness.

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