Matt, Andrew, and Alastair are joined this week by Karen Swallow Prior (welcome to Pulpit & Pen folks, who seem to follow her around!). The topic this week? The recent statement put out as part of the Every Living Thing Campaign. You can check out Karen’s new book here.
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Finally, as always, follow Alastair, and Andrew for more tweet-sized brilliance. And thanks to Timothy Motte for his sound editing work.
[…] this week’s Mere Fidelity episode, Matt Lee Anderson, Andrew Wilson, and I are joined by our friend Karen Swallow Prior (the author […]
[…] couldn’t be there because of a scheduling conflict, but for this week’s Mere Fidelity episode, Matt Lee Anderson, Andrew Wilson, and Alastair Roberts are joined by our friend Karen Swallow […]
I am a dairy farmer and a pastor and I
felt that large scale farming (what was called “factory farming”)
was unfairly maligned
I agree we should not be cruel to
animals. But the problem with defining cruelty as “you know it when
you see it”, is that animals have very different
needs/wants/comforts then we do. A good example is animal density.
However, if you look to nature you see that many animals willing stay
very close to each other (see a flock of birds) this is because,
unlike humans, many animals feel safer when in close proximity rather
then uncomfortable. Just looking at animals from a anthropocentric
worldview can not give you any insight into the actual happiness of
Here’s a video of a very large scale
dairy farm https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDo5c-ksmRs
See if they look happy to you.
Many universities are now doing
studies to measure comfort in animals in order to improve their
artificial facilities. Such as the UBC program
. Farmers largely supports these measures because happier animals are
more productive animals, they grow faster and give more milk and
eggs. Instead of low cows and animal welfare being opposed, I see
every day that they go together, the more comfortable an animal the
more productive they will be.
It’s just a fallacy that large equals cruel. I have personally seen farmers with 10 cows treat their animals poorly and a farm of 8000 cows that were as well cared for as any I had ever seen. Perhaps we should revoke Job’s righteous man status because of his large scale farming operation.
There was an analogy drawn between
slavery and modern agriculture which I find offensive. Perhaps a
better analogy is the early industrial revolution, a system that had
many problems, but the solution was not to be found in Karl Marx, but
in a gradual improvement in worker safety and wages. In the same way
large scale farming can be improved to give better lives to animals,
while (and MLA brought this up) keeping food prices low in the 2/3rds
“Bacon therefore God exists”
My initial thought on the discussion about “creative solutions” and poverty was in regards to birth control. It is virtually axiomatic among a certain class of folks that global poverty and global warming won’t end without jamming an IUD in every poor woman’s uterus. I think just about everyone in this discussion agrees that that’s a faulty premise, and I think it’s analogous to the discussion about GMOs and factory farming: yes, a little innovation and technology is certainly very helpful. But relying on it to blast through our natural limits (instead of respecting them, like how birth control can help families *space* children so that they’re not impairing the first kid’s breastfeeding with the second one’s birth or putting the second kid at risk for preterm birth because of how closely they’re spaced) is foolhardy.