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Animal suffering, the hard problem of consciousness and a reflection on why we should treat animals well

S & CB 28 (1)
April 2016


Considerable effort and ingenuity is expended on developing theodicies in response to the problem caused by evolution in terms of pain and suffering in creation and the fact that God is good and his creation is good. From a physiological and neurological perspective, it is clear that many creatures experience pain. However, pain is an essential part of the evolutionary process being clearly adaptive, potentially preventing a worse outcome for a creature, namely death. A more difficult question is that of suffering. It will be shown that the question of animal suffering is identical to the issue of sentience and the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness. After reviewing the evidence for animal consciousness and then suffering, we conclude with a brief reflection on why Christians should treat animals well.

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