Religion and animal rights Revision cards

AQA Religious Studies B notes 

HideShow resource information

Animals and humans

How are animals different from humans?

In one sense humans are animals. The theory of evolution describes life developing over millions of years, from tiny single-celled creatures into more and more complex varieties of animsla, and  finally humans. Humans share amny biological features with animals - a reason for the use of animals in research.

Most people believe that humans are on a higher level than animsla. Religions have tended to supported this idea. With the possible exception of Busddism, all religions have taught that God created animals for a purpose, to be of value and support to humans. Those who believe in reincarnation think being reborn as an animal is pnishment for past misdeeds. In both cases, animals are on a lower level to humans. 

1 of 35

Animals and humans

Human intelligence - animal instinct

Human intelligence, the ability to make decisions, form opinons and think about the consequences of actions, sets us apart from animals. Animals seem to behave according to their instincts to survive, eat and reproduce. They do not seem to have the ability to reason. Humans can read and write, understand ideas and communicate their opinions to others. They can give reasons for what they think. An animal cannot do that. Even though many animals communicate with others (like whales and birds, for example), they do not give reasosn for what they think.

Although some animals live in complex societies (like bees and ants, for example), they do this to survive rather than create a good quality of life. Although scientists have found some instances of seemingly selfless animal behaviour (such as protecting their young so the species will survive), many will abandon the weakest member of the herd. Most humans protect the weak and vulnerable. Humans can act in a moral way, choosing to be good or bad. They create art, music and literature, and develop and use science and technology. 

2 of 35

Animals and humans

Animals do not have religious beliefs. They do not worship or comminicate with God, or follow the kind of moral code of behaviur that allows people to live happily together in society. Beleivers are not agreed about whether animals have souls and it is impossible to know. Those who believe in reincarnation think an animal's body holds a soul that will inhabit another body when the animal dies. Most people who believe in some sort of life after death think the afterlife only applies to humans.

How should we treat animals?

Most people would say that just because the status of animals is lower than that of humans, does not mean humans should mistreat them. Most would agree that humans can use animals to help us live without harming the life of the animals. Religions teach that although animals are not equal to humans, they should be cared for and respected as part of the natural world. 

3 of 35

Do animals have rights?

Rights 

The term 'animal rights' was first used in 1892. There are now hundreds of organisations to protect the rights of animals. These organisations believe that animals deserve to live according to their own nature and not be harmed, exploited or abused. Animal rights' campaigners say animals have a dignity and have the same rights as humans to be free from cruelty and exploitation. Many oppose factory farming, animal experimentation and using animals for entertainment. Not all animal rights' supporters agree abou whether research on animals should ever take place. There is alsoo disagreeement about what kinds of protests are justified in order to stand up for animal right.

Protecting the rights of animals

Animal rights groups have had some success in changing public attitudes and the law. Some groups celebrate International Animal Rights Day each year on December 10th, the day on which the UN published its Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Campaigners think animals should have simolar rights of protection from exploitation and suffering as human. Candelit vigils, protest marches and letters to MPs are all used to highlight the issues. However, some groups have taken more direct and even violent action, breaking into laboritories and releasing animsla held there for research or targeting individuals who work in animal research facilities.

Animal welfare groups like the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) or the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) raise awareness and monitor the treatment of animals. 

4 of 35

Do animals have rights?

Protecting animals by law

British law protects animals from curelty and neglect, which are criminal offences. Some living creatures cannot be kept as pets, for example dangerous dogs or rare birds. Animal ecperiments to research cosmetics are banned. Legal experiments for medical and other research are inspected to make sure animals are not suffering minimal. Foxhunting and dog fighting are illegal and there are strict regulations about animal exports, transporting animals for slaughter and the management of abbattoirs (where animals are slaughtered). 

5 of 35

Do animals have rights?

Religious attitudes

Religions do not teach that animals have the same rights as humans, but that they should be protected, managed and cared for with respect. All religions execpt Buddism, believe God created the world and therefore it deserves respect. Humans do not own the planet, but have a sacred duty to care for it (stewardship). The idea of the sanctity of life (including animals) influences their views. Humans have responsibility for the way they use their power over the natural world. 

Most religious believers would support the kind of work animal welfare groups do. However, religious people may be divided about the means people use to defend animal rights. Most would accept not-violentlawful protest. Some would say actions such as trespassing or causing damage to property may be justified in extreme cases. Most would not accept violent protest that caused harm to human beings. 

6 of 35

Religious beliefs about animals

Religious views

Christianity:

Christians believe God created the world, including animals and people, and put humans in charge (Genesis 1:28). Christians believe they have a duty to care for all creation, including animals. Jesus spoke about the value of every living creature, even each individual sparrow (Luke 12:6).

Islam:

Muslims believe the world belongs to its Creator Allah who appointed humans as stweards or tustess over it. This means they must care for animals and treat them with respect. Animals have feelings and purpose in their lives and those who are cruel to them will answer to Allah. Muslims have rules about their food. They cannot eat pigs and all other animals must be killed in a painless way (halal slaughter). Guidelines about how to treat animals are given in the Shari'ah law. 

7 of 35

Religious beliefs about animals

Hindus believe in the sanctity of life. All creatures should be respected because they are part of Brahman (God). All living things are bound up in the cycle of birth, death and rebirth as the soul is reborn in different forms. Hindus  have a duty to protect animals and not to harm them. Many Hindu deities have animals as their vehicles or appear in animal form. The cow is sacred in Hinduism and is allowed to roam free in India. 

8 of 35

Wild animals

Zoos, safari parks and aquariums 

In support

Many people can remember a trip to a zoo, safari park or aquarium with delight. Visitors can see wild animals close up that they would otherwise never see except on television or in films. Sharks, stingrays and even killer whales are dangerous but fascinating creatures that can be safely seen in an aquarium. Poisonous snakes, butterflies, rare birds and magnificent animals like lions, tigers, elephants and giraffes could not be seen by most people in Britain outside a zoo or safari park. Most zoos have educational activities or areas where children can see some animals up close. Breeding programmes in zoos have helped to save rare species from extinction. Some zoos pay for research into animals. This helps us to understand their places in the ecosystem and aid their protection in the wild. 

9 of 35

Wild animals

In opposition

On the other hand, some zoos and safari parks do not always provide a suitable environment for wild animals. Sometimes animals are kept in small cages and suffer stress. The climate and habitat is often different from their native environment and some animals find it difficult to adjust. Several years ago a polar bear in New York was reported to be showing distress because of the very hot summer temperatures. 

Religious views

Most religious people accept zoos if the animals are kept in conditions that are as near as possible to life in the wild. Many zoos and safari parks closely recreate the natural habitat of species and allow animals to roam over large areas. Religious people recognise that zoos can help preserve species in the wild by research and through carefully designed breeding programmes. 

10 of 35

Wild animals

Religious responses:

Assisi declarations

On the 25th anniversary of the creation of the WWF (1986), leaders of all six major world religions met in Assisi, Italy, the home of St Francis, the patron saint of animals. Leaders from each religion made statements about how people should act responsibly for the welfare of the Earth, including animals. 

Ohito Declaration

In 1995, at a similar conference in Ohito, Japan, world religious leaders issued some spiritual principles:

  • Religions recognise the need to treat the environment, including animals, with care
  • Sustaining environmental life is a religious responsibility
  • nature needs to be treated with respect and compassion
11 of 35

Wild animals

Practical action

The RSPCA was started in 1824 by the Reverend Arthur Broome and other Christians in response to cruelty to animals. It was the world's first animal welfare organisation. Today there are many conservation and animal welfare organisations, such as Greenpeace and WWF, that are supported by religious believers. There are also religious environmental organisations, such as the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Quaker Concern for Animals, and the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals.

12 of 35

Useful animals

Pets

Most people who keep pets grow to love them and treat  them as a member of the family. For people who live on their own, a pet can provide companionship and a way of expressing affection. Dogs bring many benefits to their owners, including exercise and social contact with other dog walkers. Some people go do far as to dress their pets in designer outfits or have a pet buried in a special cemetery when they die. 

Guide dogs are trained from puppies to help blind and partially sighted people lead more independent lives by helping them cross roads and get around outside their homes. A guide dog's working life is around seven years. After that they retire to a good home. They are both pets and working animals. 

Religious views of pets

Most religions do not forbid people to have pets, but in Islam animals must not be kept in limited spaces or trained to perform tricks. Most Muslims, therefore, do not have pets, but can keep working dogs for hunting or guarding their home. In all faiths humane treatment of animals is expected. 

13 of 35

Useful animals

Transport and work

Animals are used all over the world to transport people and goods. 'Beasts of burden' like donkeys, mules, camels or horses can be ridden or harnessed to pull carts or carry goods. Dogs are used in the Arctic to pull sleds. Before modern transport was invented, the horse and carriage was a common sight in Britain. 

Horses and working dogs are used on farms and oxen or buffalo may be used to pull a plough. In India elephants are used for logging, and in China birds called cormorants are used to catch fish. Guide dogs are not the only animal to help disabled people; small African monkeys have been trained to do simple household tasks like opening mail. 'Sniffer' dogs are used by the police to follow a trail and seek out drugs, and animals are used by the military to locate mines. Dogs carried messages across the trenches during World War 1 and some were given medals for bravery. 

14 of 35

Useful animals

Religious views of working animals

Most religions do not object to using animals for work or transport as long as they are cared for. Islam teaches that working animals must not be beaten or overworked. They must be well-fed and watered. Hindus regard the cow as sacred. The cow gives life by providing food, fuel for heating and a means of transport. More recently, people have realised that contact with animals can bring a therapeutic (helpful to healing) effect to children with autism, sick people, the elderly and prisoners. Most religious people would support the use of animals to heal in this way. 

15 of 35

Animals for food

Eating meat

Ask someone what a typical meal is and they might answer fish and chips or a Sunday roast. Many people have been brought up eating meat. They enjoy the taste and for them it is their main source of protein. Livestock fishing are important British industries, so beef, ham, pork, bacon, lamb, poultry and fish are produced in large quantities. 

What are the issues?

Some people object to killing animals for meat and say humans have no right to deprive another living being of life. 

Others accept that domesticated animals bred specifically for meat product can be used for food. They are obviously not endangered species, so as long as they are treated well during their lives and killed humanely. These people believe this is morally acceptable. 

However, as agriculture has grown into a huge industry, the methods used to produce meat have changed. This has made some people question whether the animals are being mistreated and suffer unnecessary pain or distress in the process. 

16 of 35

Animals for food

Free-range farming

Free-range farming is a method of raising animals so that they can roam freely and live a more natural life. hens can scratch in the farmyard and are only kept inside at night. Other animals are outdoors and can graze. A free-range dairy cow will stay with her calf, developing a strong bond, while it feeds for six to eight months. Free-range products, however, are usually more expensive to buy. 

Factory farming

Factory farming is a method of raising animals intensively. A high output of animals can be produced and more profit can be made. factory farms need to use antibiotics and pesticides to prevent disease because of the crowded living conditions. Animals are kept indoors, sometimes in the dark. Their movement is restricted and they cannot follow their natural behaviour to mate or graze. They may be given growth hormones to make them grow faster or to yield more milk or eggs. A factory-famed cow is separated from her calf shortly after birth and given special food that makes her produce ten times as much milk as she would need for her calf. 

17 of 35

Animals for food

The advantages of factory farming are that food production is more efficient and costs less, so meat, milk or eggs can be sold at lower prices to the consumer. Opponents say factory farming threatens animal welfare, human health and the environment. The crowded living conditions cause suffering and distress. the drugs and chemicals used may build up in the food chain and affect human health and resistance to disease. Waste from such farms can get into human water supplies and rivers, killing fish and other wildlife. 

Slaughter and transport of animals

In Britian, animals are usually stunned first and then slaughtered (killed). The aim is to let the animal bleed out before death so the meat will be good. Muslim methods of halal involves cutting the animal's neck with a sharp knife. 

Some animals are sent to be slaughtered many miles away from where they were produced. Animals are transported over long distances in cramped, overcrowded conditions without enough food or water. Many die in transit. Animal welfare groups like the RSPCA campaign for animals to be slaughtered as close as possible to where they were raised. 

18 of 35

Animals for food

Some facts about meat

Ninety percent of people in the UK are meat eaters. Meat is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, particularly Vitamin B12 which is only found in foods from animals, such as meat and milk.

Vegetarian and vegan diets

Vegetarianism means a person does not eat fish, animals or birds. A vegan refuses to use any animal products, including dairy products (milk, cheese, eggs) or fur and leather that comes from a dead animal.

Some reasons why people choose to be vegetarian or vegan include:

  • They do not wish to harm animals
  • It is part of their religion
  • They may object to the way meat and poultry are produced and transported
  • They think vegetables, particularly those grown organically, are safer and healthier to eat
19 of 35

Animals for food

Many vegetarians argue that if fewer people ate meat, there would be enough food to stop hunger in developing countries. If the large areas of land used to produce a relatively small amount of beef were used instead to grow crops for food, 10 times as many people could be fed.

Religious attitudes

Most Hindus are vegetarian. They regard animals as part of the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. To them, killing an animal might mean killing a body that houses an ancestor's soul. They believe in the principle of ahimsa, or not harming living creatures. 

The Vedas (Hindu holy books) say that Hindus should avoid meat because it cannot be obtained without harming living creatures. Some Hindus do eat meat but never part of a cow, which is a sacred animal. 

Although individual Christians and Muslims may be vegetarians for reasons given above, the religions themselves do not teach people to avoid meat. Both these religions believe animals were created by God to provide humans with food. After the great flood God told Nah that people may eat animals.

20 of 35

Animals for food

St Paul wrote to the Romans that all foods could be eaten, but that Christians should not eat anything that causes someone else to sin.

Muslims have food laws that tell them which animals they may eat and *********** them. Muslims eat only halal meat, killed in a humane way 'in the name of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate'. Muslims do not eat pigs. The Qur'an teaches that carrion, blood and pork are forbidden. 

21 of 35

Animals in sport

Using animals in sport

Throughout history people have used animals in sport to:

  • compete with the animals against opponents (as in horseracing, polo or show jumping)
  • watch animals compete against each other (as in greyhound or pigeon racing)
  • compete against animals (such as in rodeos and bullfighting)

Arguments for and against using animals in sport

  • Animals feel pain and fear. It is wrong to use them for our entertainment.
  • Animals like competing, using them for sport is no worse than killing them for food.
22 of 35

Animals in sport

Hunting

Survival for the first human depends upon the skill of a hunter to bring food to his family and tribe. Once food became easier to get, hunting became a sport rather than a necessity. However, in some parts of the world, like the Arctic, people still need to hunt for food to survive. In Britian, most hunting is classed as a sport.

Supporters say it helps the countryside, for example, by removing pests like foxes, which attack livestock or wildlife and can spread disease. They think trapping or poisoning animals may be more cruel and less effective than hunting. 

Opponents of hunting successfully argued that chasing and killing a fox with hounds is cruel. Parliament passed a law in 2004 banning hare coursing and the hunting of wild mammals with dogs. 

23 of 35

Animals in sport

Bullfighting

Bullfighting, with its colorful pageantry and element of danger, is popular in Spain and Portugal. After performing various moves to distract and anger the bull, the matador thrusts a sword into the bull to kill it. Supporters say it is a proud tradition that should be respected; the bull will be killed anyway so it does not matter how it is done. Opponents think it is cruel and degrading. The bulls are teased and have sharp spears stuck into their bodies until they collapse exhausted from their injuries. 

24 of 35

Religious attitudes

Christianity:

Some Christians believe hunting is justified since God told humans to bring animals under their control. Other Christians say animals are part of God's creation and humans have a duty as stewards to protect them.

Hinduism:

Hindus think hunting is cruel and unnecessary. All creatures are part of Brahman. Protecting animals is part of a Hindu's duty. Hindus should practise non-violence.

Islam:

Islam teaches that animals have feelings and a reason for living. Animals may be hunted for food but for sport. Allah will hold people accountable if they kill an animal for no useful purpose. 

25 of 35

The fur and ivory trades

Fur

For most of human history, particularly in cold climates, humans have used all sorts of animals for fur clothing to keep themselves warm. Some are well known, such as mink, fox or rabbit. Some might surprise you, such as seal, and even cat and dog. If humans kill animals for food, and use their skins for leather goods, what is the problem with using their fur for coats?

The fur trade

Some people wrongly think that fur has come from an animal that was killed for its meat rather than just its fur. This is not so. Over 55 million animals are killed each year for the fur trade. Fur farms keep hundreds  of wild animals in small, individual cages to save their fur from damage. This prevents them from living a natural life. Methods of slaughter, such as electrocution, sometimes leave the animals conscious while they are being skinned. Fur farming was made illegal in England and Wales in 2000 (2002 in Scotland).

26 of 35

The fur and ivory trades

After many years of being seen as wrong, wearing fur recently made a comeback at designer fashion shows. Supporters argue the fur trade is worth up to £500 million a year to the UK economy. Fur is a natural, renewable resource. The fur trade helps people who make their living by trapping and hunting. No endangered species are used. Some animals are taken to reduce their numbers. The British Fur Trade Association is introducing an 'origin assured' label to reassure customers that the fur comes from a country with rules about producing fur.

The Ivory trade

Most people think it is wrong to kill elephants just to get the ivory in their tusks, but experts believe the ivory trade is flourishing. Conservation groups who monitor the trade say armed gangs of poachers kill elephants in Central Africa. The ivory from their tusks finds its way into shops in Nigeria, the Ivory Coast and Senegal. The amount of ivory found there in 2003 represented tusks of more than 760 elephants, yet there are probably no more than 563 elephants left in these countries. This showed that it was being imported from other places. 

27 of 35

The fur and ivory trades

The ivory trade and the law

the legal position is complicated. In 1989, the United Nations (UN) made the ivory trade illegal everywhere. However, since then it has allowed some limited trading to go ahead. Recently the European Union has approved the sale of 108 tonnes of ivory to China where there is a huge demand. Although it is said to be taken only from animals that died or were killed because of overpopulation, opponents say that allowing some legal sales only encourages its poachers.

Some African countries have laws limiting the ivory trade. However, they allow the to be broken because of corruption, a lack of political will and the difficulties of enforcing the law. Armed groups in a number of countries are using profits from ivory to fund military operations, so the killing of elephants is funding war. 

28 of 35

Animal experiments

Animal experiments:

Animal experiments are when medical drugs are tested on animals before they can be sold to humans. New drugs are injected into animals to test their effects. Many useful vaccines against human and animal disease have been developed this way. However, drugs do not always affect animals in the same way as humans. In 2006, Ryan Wilson, a volunteer in a drug trial, had to have all his fingers and toes amputated because he reacted so badly to a drug. It had been previously tested on animals with no ill effects.

Testing cosmetics and toiletries on animals is now against the law. In medical research, companies are using cheaper, quicker alternatives. These have reduced the number of animal experiments. Instead of live animals, they used computers or experiment on cells. The government inspects laboratories to ensure animal suffering is kept to a minimum.

29 of 35

Animal experiments

Genetic Modification (GM)

People have always bred farm animals to improve their health and get better quality meat. However, genetic modification means that animals ahve been genetically altered in a laboratory. This is so scientists can study how genes work, study the effects of genetic diseases and test new drugs. Pigs have been developed (with human DNA) to supply organs for human transplantation. They have not yet been used. An 'oncomouse' has been genetically modified to be born with cancer for research. 

Cloning

Cloning is creating an organism that is the exact genetic copy of another. Scientists in Scotland cloned Tracy the sheep. She produced a protein in her milk that could treat lung diseases like cystic fibrosis. Although there are benefits, thousands of animal embryos are destroyed while trying to clone them. Believers worry that the main motive for cloning animals will be to make money. Human health and safety risks might be ignored. 

30 of 35

Animal experiments

Religious attitudes

Some religious people are against genetic modification and cloning of animals. they think scientists are 'playing God' and interfering with nature by artificially changing the structure of a living creature. Some believers oppose all animal experiments on grounds of cruelty. Others accept animals experiments if they help save human lives. 

Christianity:

Christians believe that animals and birds are valuable to God (Luke 12:6), but most Christians accept limited testing on animals in order to find a cure for diseases.

Hinduism:

Hindu deities appear as animals, reminding the worshiper of the qualities found in the animal world.  Animals should not be harmed as they are part of the great wheel of samsara (the cycle of life, death and rebirth) and are helpful to humans.

31 of 35

Animal experiments

Islam:

Animals have had legal rights in Islam since the 13th century. Caging animals is forbidden but animals may be used to find disease if suffering is minimal. Allah has entrusted humans with maintaining the unity of his creation, its wildlife and the natural environment (Muslim Declaration at Assisi). 

32 of 35

Animal experiments

Genetic Modification (GM)

People have always bred farm animals to improve their health and get better quality meat. However, genetic modification means that animals ahve been genetically altered in a laboratory. This is so scientists can study how genes work, study the effects of genetic diseases and test new drugs. Pigs have been developed (with human DNA) to supply organs for human transplantation. They have not yet been used. An 'oncomouse' has been genetically modified to be born with cancer for research. 

Cloning

Cloning is creating an organism that is the exact genetic copy of another. Scientists in Scotland cloned Tracy the sheep. She produced a protein in her milk that could treat lung diseases like cystic fibrosis. Although there are benefits, thousands of animal embryos are destroyed while trying to clone them. Believers worry that the main motive for cloning animals will be to make money. Human health and safety risks might be ignored. 

33 of 35

Animal experiments

Religious attitudes

Some religious people are against genetic modification and cloning of animals. they think scientists are 'playing God' and interfering with nature by artificially changing the structure of a living creature. Some believers oppose all animal experiments on grounds of cruelty. Others accept animals experiments if they help save human lives. 

Christianity:

Christians believe that animals and birds are valuable to God (Luke 12:6), but most Christians accept limited testing on animals in order to find a cure for diseases.

Hinduism:

Hindu deities appear as animals, reminding the worshiper of the qualities found in the animal world.  Animals should not be harmed as they are part of the great wheel of samsara (the cycle of life, death and rebirth) and are helpful to humans.

34 of 35

Animal experiments

Islam:

Animals have had legal rights in Islam since the 13th century. Caging animals is forbidden but animals may be used to find disease if suffering is minimal. Allah has entrusted humans with maintaining the unity of his creation, its wildlife and the natural environment (Muslim Declaration at Assisi). 

35 of 35

Comments

DAVIDTENNANTILOVEYOU

Good stuff...

Similar Religious Studies resources:

See all Religious Studies resources »See all Rights and Responsibilities resources »