I’ve been re-reading Andrew Linzey’s Christianity and the Rights of Animals and just wanted to jot down some salient passages.
On intensive farming:
To put it at its most basic: animals have a God-given right to be animals. The natural life of a Spirit-filled creatures is a gift from God. When we take over the life of an animal to the extent of distorting its natural life for no other purpose than our own gain, we fall into sin. There is no clearer blasphemy before God than the perversion of his creatures. To the question: Why is it wrong to deny chickens the rudimentary requirements of their natural life, such as freedom of movement or association?, there is therefore only one satisfactory answer: Since an animal’s natural life is a gift from God, it follows that God’s right is violated when the natural life of his creatures is perverted. (p. 112)
The Christian argument for vegetarianism … is simple: since animals belong to God, have value to God and live for God, then their needless destruction is sinful. In short: animals have some right to their life, all circumstances being equal. (p. 146)
On “progressive disengagement” from animal exploitation:
What we need is progressive disengagement from our inhumanity to animals. The urgent and essential task is to invite, encourage, support and welcome those who want to take some steps along the road to a more peaceful world with the non-human creation. We do not all have to agree upon the most vital steps, or indeed the most practical ones. What is important is that we all move some way on, if only by one step at a time, however falteringly. (pp. 148-9)
Linzey’s basic perspective is that animals’ rights are grounded in God’s prior right to have God’s creatures treated with respect. This provides a basis for objecting not just to the infliction of pain on animals, but to the deprivation of their ability to live out their natural, God-given lives. In Linzey’s view, human “stewardship” of the natural world, properly understood, has a Christ-like and cruciform shape. It therefore can never justify the wanton use of animals for human benefit. Instead, it should be characterized by valuing the non-human world for its own sake, letting it be without undue human interference, and generally living peaceably with other creatures.