Animals only suffer because some of their actions are intentional.

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Parent debateThis argument is used in the debate Does God exist?.
Argument againstThis argument is an objection to Animal suffering is unjust.
Keywords: God, Evil, Suffering[ edit ].



“The good of animals, like the good of human beings, does not consist in shivers of pleasure. For animals, too, certain things are more valuable, especially intentional actions, among which there are many intentional actions of great importance. The lives of animals include many intentional actions of great importance. Animals look for a mate, even when they are exhausted or can't find one. They take great pains to build nests and feed their offspring, to deceive predators and carry out reconnaissance. All this inevitably leads to pain (when they continue despite fatigue) and danger. An animal would not intentionally flee forest fires, or go to the trouble of saving its offspring from a forest fire, if there were no real danger of being caught in one. The act of saving one's offspring in spite of danger would simply not exist if there were no danger. And danger wouldn't exist without a significant natural probability of being caught in a fire. Animals do not freely decide to perform such actions, but these actions are valuable nonetheless. It's a great thing that animals feed their young, not just themselves; that animals perform reconnaissance when they sense danger; that they seek to save each other from predators, and so on. These are things that give value to the lives of animals. But these things often involve suffering for these creatures.”

Richard Swinburne, Is there a God?, p.105, Ithaca, 2009.


Arguments forJustifications

Arguments againstObjections

  • Argument againstSome biblical accounts mention unjust animal suffering
  • Argument againstAccording to the Bible, man alone possesses free will, and with it the ability to do evil.

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