The society in which we live is overwhelmingly influenced by evolutionary ideas. This is in spite of the fact that most of us do not subscribe to the belief that the world came into existence all by itself. Most Americans believe that there is a Creator who made us. Yet there is an increasing tendency to accept beliefs which are based squarely on evolution. This article will examine one of those beliefs in some detail.
There is, in our culture, a rather vocal minority that claims it is wrong to eat meat. Vegetarians seem to be all around us. People give many reasons for being vegetarians. Some of these reasons are quite valid and some are not.
In the forefront of these reasons is the health issue. Dietitians and others in the health care professions frequently warn of the danger of eating too much fat and the wrong kind of fats. We eat, they say, insufficient fruit, nuts and vegetables and complex carbohydrates such as potatoes, rice and other cereals. They insist that milk, eggs and meat should provide only a small portion of our dietary intake. It is not hard to document the validity of such claims. Populations whose diet consists of high cereal (grains, pastas, etc.) intake, adequate vegetables and fruits with low or no intake of meals, consistently show lower levels of heart disease, cancer and high blood pressure than those eating the typical American “junk food” diet. It is possible today to maintain the right amounts of protein, iron and vitamins without eating meat. However, if one should omit milk and eggs from the diet there is at least a theoretical (and probably a really practical) chance that the diet will lack other elements essential to proper nutrition.
The health issue therefore is a valid reason for one to be a vegetarian. This is especially true if one would take the time to study carefully the nutritional components of various fruits and grains and adjust the diet accordingly.
The other predominant reason that vegetarians often give for their belief is the moral or ethical one. There are organizations devoted to the propagation of ideas and concepts opposed to the use of animals for food, clothing (leather), etc. The basic premise behind these philosophies is that man has no moral right it) take the life of another creature. This view assumes that all animals (man included) are essentially the same. It is the logical outgrowth of an evolutionary concept of origins and is a “new age” pantheistic concept. If, as they say, all that exists is “god,” then there is no essential difference between a rock, a tree, a squirrel and a human. Even without a religious connotation, the evolutionary proposition that all life came from a single source results in the same conclusion. There is, then, no real difference between men and animals. Not all evolutionists, of course, subscribe to a vegetarian life style. There are those who hold that man is a predator, not unlike any other predator, and thus has an inherent “right” to seek his prey. As a lion or a leopard seeks to kill and eat an antelope, so man seeks and kills a steer to provide beef for his hamburger.
At any rate, it is evolutionary concepts which provide the underlying philosophy behind moral or ethical opposition to the use of animals as food. As we investigate the validity or lack thereof of this concept one must ask the question, “Whose is the earth and its contents?” The Christian instinctively knows the answer. It is found in many places in Scripture.
BSpade 14:3 (Summer 2001) p. 91
Charles R. Darwin (1809 1882)
Psalm 95:3–5 states,
For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land.
Psalm 24:1 continues this theme, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.”
The world was not brought into existence without a purpose. God created it as a home for mankind. Man was given the task, neither an onerous nor a difficult one, to care for it, to tend it and enjoy the fruits it yielded (Gn 2:15–17). Originally, men, as well as all animals, were herbivorous. Prior to man’s sin and consequent expulsion from God’s presence his diet was vegetarian (Gn 1:29–30). God’s original intent was that man and all animals be nourished by “every green plant.” To man specifically He gave seeds (grains, cereals etc.), fruits and vegetables.
For many years this vegetarian dietary command was in force. There is no reason to suspect, however, that man obeyed this command any more than any other of God’s orders to mankind. No doubt men did eat meat in the interval between the fall and the flood. Nor do we have any indication that animals followed a vegetarian diet. Perhaps they did, but Scripture does not say it. It was only after the flood which came when the earth “was filled with violence” (Gn 6:11) that God modified the command to eat only plants.
After the flood, when Noah and his family exited the ark to establish the beginnings of civilization as we know it, God told him,” Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants. I now give you everything” (Gn 9:3). Note that this is not a command per se, rather it is permission to eat animals.
That this permission extends to the present day is evident in some New Testament passages. Christ Himself stated that it is not what enters a man (ie, what he eats) that corrupts him. Rather, what comes out of his mouth displays the evil in his heart (Mt 15:11, 16–20; Mk 7:15, 21). The permission to eat meat is repeated explicitly in 1 Timothy 4:2–3.
…hypocritical liars…order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.
There is nothing immoral or unethical in eating meat. As a Christian, if you wish to adhere to a vegetarian diet be sure that it is for legitimate reasons. It is important for Bible believers to make certain that our actions are not misinterpreted. “Do not let your good be evil spoken of (Rom 14:16). We must “be ready always to give an answer to every one who asks us for a reason for the hope that is within us” (1 Pt 3:15).
We Christians must be careful not to “blend in” with a pagan society. We are commanded to let our light shine as on a lamp stand. Sometimes that means speaking out when others make untrue assumptions about the reasons for our actions. Though we may have valid dietary reasons to abstain from meal, let us be sure that our friends know why we do so.
BSpade 14:3 (Summer 2001) p. 92