The Atheist Vegetarian Connection

It might not be obvious to everyone at first, but there is a connection between atheism and vegetarianism. Think of it this way. Many people believe in one or more gods because they grow up around people who believe, worship, and sometimes offer sacrifices to those gods. This is something that is inherited from the culture around them. Meat is exactly like a god. People eat one or more kinds of meat because certain animals in their culture are routinely killed, sold, and eaten. For example, I grew up in the USA where it is common for people to eat cows, chickens, turkeys, and pigs. Why eat these species and not kangaroos? Probably because there are not many kangaroos around here.

Some cultures eat dogs while others see dogs as pets and would never think of eating them. If you eat meat of any animal, can you explain the causes behind why you eat certain animals and not others? My question is what is restricting carnivorous humans from eating other humans? If you look at it, that makes perfect sense to a carnivore. When I was about twenty-five, I asked that question and quickly realized that I was not comfortable with the idea if eating humans, vegetarianism was the inevitable result since then. I could not give one reason why it was okay to kill and eat a turkey any more than it was okay to eat a human. Basically, it follows logically that to oppose the killing of humans, the minimum requirement is to oppose the killing of all the other animals as well.

How does this relate to atheism? The primary reason being that one who rejects animal killing has basically rejected any and all institutions which promote the practice. It means the rejection of all religions that promote the sacrifice of animals or the eating of them as part of a religious holiday. It doesn’t disprove the existence of gods, but it does explain why many atheists have become vegetarian and others vegan. If you leave a religion first(like I did), you may stop the carnivorous traditions from that religion. The reverse is also true, if you hate the killing of animals, you will automatically have a problem with holy books which promote the practice of killing or hurting animals. Once again, this does not prove that gods do not exist, but it means that you will reject the moral code that you were told was given by a divine lawgiver.

I would expect a god to prevent the torture and killing of all the animals who are conscious and feel pain. A god who does not do so could theoretically exist, but it doesn’t matter to an animal rights activist because that god is seen as immoral. So while caring about the suffering of sentient life does not make someone an atheist, it sure gives atheist vegetarians more reason to eliminate religious beliefs that lead to more killing. If you are vegetarian(eat no meat) or vegan(no animal products), your only theistic option is to believe in a god that is too evil, apathetic, or powerless to defend life. This was unsatisfactory to me and is why it matters not a bit to me if any gods exist because it has no relevance to this life.

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8 Comments

  1. I have a moral problem with vegetarianism. We didn’t always have supermarkets where a thoughtful person could easily assemble meals with sufficient protein and other nutrients. I suspect that there were times in human history (or pre-history) when survival depended upon hunting and fishing skills. Arctic and Antarctic peoples would have some difficulty raising crops on a sheet of ice. I suspect that most humans that survived the last ice age had to eat the animals that fed upon fishes (seals, polar bears, otters, etc). And I suspect that whenever droughts brought famine, people also had to have hunting skills. As to eating humans, that would be a last resort, but it has also been done for survival (see Donner Party) in Wiki.

    Therefore I believe it is imperative that the human race retain the skills for hunting and preparing animals. And, therefore, I believe it would be immoral to outlaw the eating of meat by law or ethics.

    I think the native Americans had religious rituals and ethical codes that helped them psychologically deal with the necessity of killing animals for food, clothing, and shelter (tents and tipis). (Religion is sometimes a form of psychology as well as a sustainer of the culture’s ethical norms). I think Buddhism was originally a psychology. I think Buddha would not support the idea of viewing himself as a god. But I’m no expert.

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    1. I agree that there have been times in the past where humans would not have survived without their ability to hunt and eat other animals. The problem that I am confronted with is that the survival of humans is not really any more important than those other animals. I am glad that for many of us today, it is not required to eat meat and that those of us who are able should be vegetarian.

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      1. My younger sister (she’s 66) fixes us a nice tofu lasagna when we get together for Christmas and Thanksgiving.

        But still, if it came down to my family or the porpoise, I hope I’d have the guts to take him out.

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      2. Hey, that sounds like a “might makes right” argument! That’s not good.

        Reminds me though that when my dad took me fishing for the first time, I made the comment that if fish could scream no one would fish. It must have bothered him a bit because when he tried to show me how to cast, he accidentally cast his whole rod and had to wade out to retrieve it. Since then, I fished with the Indian Guides when my son was young (using miniature marshmallows for bait), so my attitudes changed.

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