Saturday, December 6, 2008

Violence, Pain, Death

Question: It is clear from the fossil record, and nearly two centuries of examination and interpretation by paleontologists, that long before the human species existed, pain, suffering and death were present on this planet. The earliest amphibians, their successors the dinosaurs, and the mammals that roamed the earth before humankind suffered sickness, pain and death. They killed and ate each other. In fact, even before the vertebrates, the earliest microbes were killing and preying on each other.How could humans be responsible for a situation that predated their very existence?On the larger, cosmological scale, the universe(s) of which we are aware include galaxies millions of light years away from us, whose light is only now reaching us. Astronomers tell us that numberless suns, and even galaxies, have been destroyed in cataclysms of violence in the past, that perhaps millions of planets with life forms have been erased in violence and, obviously, pain. All of this long before people existed. How are we responsible for this?It seems that violence on a vast scale, pain and death have been part of the universe all along. We, a species present on planet earth for such a short period, can hardly be called responsible for it.Whatever organizing principle, force or creative energy lies behind all that is–in other words, God–seems responsible. Is God then a monster? Does this organizing principle, which basic logic insists must exist, create life, beauty and all that is good only to subsequently destroy it?Why are most species forced to kill in order to eat? Why do predators such as lions, foxes or hawks have to rend and tear creatures, causing great fear and pain, in order simply to survive? Why do humans have to do so? Why did God create a situation in which every thing that lives must kill other things to live, and ultimately end its own existence in pain and suffering?The idea of original sin seems to me a very feeble and inadequate excuse for all of this. What answers do members of this list–especially those who are people of the book (Jews, Christians and Muslims)--offer? Could you point me to passages in any scriptures that deal with it? I've found some passages in the Upanishads, for example, that touch on it. Where in the Old and New Testaments, Torah, the Holy Koran and Hadith, etc. might I find it discussed?

Answer: Species [are forced to] kill in order to survive is because we are all part of the great Circle of Life….. Allah, in His infinite wisdom, has created bio-degradable substances essential for the survival of all who inhabit Earth, for the sake of survival and sustenance of planet Earth itself. Carnivores eat animals, Herbivores eat plants[which are also living things], Plants get sustenance from the nutrients in the soil, sunlight, air and water, and so the circle continues. Why is killing to eat such a repulsive idea, whereas breaking off plant parts to eat is not? Are plants any less living than animals? In fact, as muslims, we are ordered to pronounce the name of Allah on food, especially when slaughtering an animal, to remind ourselves of the sacredness of life and this blessing of food that we are receiving from Allah.We humans begin/build/make/start a lot of things, and then end them as well…… you think it is wrong to do so? From a divine standpoint, I guess the Creator who creates life has every right to take it back as well. Besides, He is also promising us eternal life in the Hereafter, which, you know is more scary, in case we end up in Hell instead of Heaven………. This life of a century or less seems nothing compared to eternity! If He has been kind enough to give us guidance as to how to live this life in order to be successful in the hereafter, I think we should grab the chance, and be grateful.While dwelling on the bio-degradable, how would it have been if FOOD were to have been inorganic objects, example minerals from the soil? Would we then have to be rooted to the earth to get nourishment? Or, if we had to mine our food? Or, maybe, synthetic food that we had to manufacture, like plastic? In that case, how would pre-technology people survive? And how would it affect the environment? How long would planet Earth and its inhabitants survive? Let us not try to judge the Creator.

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