03 August 2016

Uncommon Commentary #512: Eco-Logical, Not Environ-Mental (alternate title: Inhuman Nature)

A pristine wilderness is not an “eden” or a “paradise”; the true Eden was paradisiacal because it existed prior to Original Sin, which resulted not also in the Fall of Man but also in a fall of the rest of creation.  This is important to understand, because there is so much opposition in our era to hunting and to keeping animals in captivity.
All animals die at some time, and, in the case of higher forms that are able to feel both pain and fear, the ways in which they die are usually quite unpleasant.  Human hunters generally are far more humane than their natural counterparts, many of which begin to eat their prey without killing it; those beasts that evade predation commonly perish from such causes as disease, climactic conditions like winter or drought, and starvation, the last of which can occur because of outliving the ability to feed.  In truth, death by bullets or by arrows is about the best demise for which wildlife can hope.  And while they live, animals are better off in zoological gardens (“zoos”), where they have abundant food and protection from above-mentioned threats, than in the wild; they may not have “freedom” in captivity, but, being instinct-driven, they don’t care about this abstract concept, and act only to satisfy physiological urges like hunger.  (It ought to be mentioned also that zoological gardens and often human hunters, ironic though this may seem in the latter case, are important in conservationism.  Some species survive only in captivity, and others were saved from extinction by the establishment of hunting-preserves, as was true of the European bison in the 1900’s.)
God made animals to share our world, but He gave us dominion over them; it’s therefore wrong either to treat them ruthlessly or recklessly or to grant them rights (e.g., life and liberty) that are equal to ours.  Nature must be protected, but not romanticized.