I’ll be moving some comments about the meat thing to this post, and I ask that discussion of this topic remain in here. Also, this is Sam responding… not Ask an Atheist.
Regarding the e-mail at the beginning of the show none of the responses you provided actually justify killing animals for food.
Exactly correct. We provided no justifications, nor did we have any intentions to. I’ve heard nearly every logical fallacy thrown at things I said about meat on the 30k episode, but none of them really applies since I was not even pretending to make a logical argument.
My point is that when you’re an atheist, it is necessary to find your own answers, rather than fall back on pat dogmatic responses that one can find in a religious context, and we say so right in the episode. This is actually a point in the favor of people who are vegan or vegetarian for ethical reasons– and I’m certain the people who are angrily writing to us would see this, assuming they take the time to think this through.
If you’re asking me to provide my arguments for why I continue to eat meat, I have a simple answer for you: No.
That crosses a line which, in the context of this topic, seems far too evangelical for my liking. I will instead encourage people to come to their own conclusions. I’m sure you’ll continue to view me as an unethical person. As an atheist, I’m sort of used to that sort of thing, so I think I’ll manage.
As a skeptic I gave this question a lot of thought myself, and eventually decided I had to go vegan. Given that, I’m living proof that you don’t need to eat meat to live… so it’s not something we “have to accept,” as was claimed in the episode.
As a skeptic, I’m certain you understand that a single datapoint hardly constitutes proof, as well as that something true of a single population is not necessarily true of other populations. What you have here is essentially anecdotal.
However, do not take this as an invitation to provide me with some other study. I know they exist, I’ve seen a few of them, and have been impressed by few.
Meat tastes good. Sex feels good. Rape isn’t justified by sex feeling good, so eating meat isn’t justified by it feeling good to eat it.
As an ethical person, I’m certain you understand the enormous fallacies involved with this statement, and the amount of ignorance you’re appearing to portray when you cast something like rape in this light.
As Peter Singer pointed out to Richard Dawkins it is special pleading to claim humans have any right to kill animals.
I’m actually pretty ok with other animals killing for food, too. In fact, we couldn’t really stop it without doing some pretty severe ecological damage.
A way I like to look at it is this. If aliens came to earth today and started eating humans. What would be your defense? What would you say to the aliens to make them stop eating you? And what argument could you make where they couldn’t just respond “well, you do the same thing to cows and chickens so why can’t we do it to you?” “We are smarter, bigger, and we can. Isn’t that the same justification you use?”
An alien race capable of interstellar travel and bent on consuming Marc Singer and company for food would more than likely remain unconvinced by any ethical comments I might make. Also, this sounds a little too much like “What if God told you he didn’t like it?” and I’m suspicious of anyone going to Alien Ultimate Authority in order to make an otherwise rational claim.
For example, as I stated above, the fact that putting animals in a special category “to be eaten” is special pleading. That is, unless you can state a difference between humans and animals that justifies putting them in this category. Some have suggested “we are smarter” for example. But wouldn’t that also necessarily justify eating retarded people, anyone in a coma, or even babies? Clearly “we are smarter” isn’t enough to create the categories meat-eaters want to exist. So as I say, it is possible to argue against this type of claim from a rational perspective.
On my “less good” days, I think we should be allowed to eat people.