I hope this post blows your mind. It blew my mind when it came to me so I thought I'd share it with you:
The moral and ethical case for vegetarianism is not difficult to make. There are probably hundreds of different ways to make the case but let's examine one:
No animal wants to die. In particular, no animal wants to be killed by another animal. Turn on any nature show and see the gazelle running in terror to escape the cheetah and you'll know this is true. Even the lowly cockroach seems to follow our gaze and dash from the underside of our angry shoe. Now, different animals have different pain thresholds and different levels of intelligence but it is obvious to everyone but a psychopath that no animal wants to be killed by another. Can we all agree on that point?
So there is a strong moral and ethical case to be made for vegetarianism: it is obvious that the killing of any animal is cruel. We want to live in a humane world with less cruelty and violence. So we choose to eat only plants. It's a pretty strong case. And indeed if we all had to kill our food ourselves, many of us would likely become vegetarians pretty quickly. Nothing complicated about that argument, correct?
Okay but here's the thing. The earth is designed for animals to kill other animals. Cheetahs eventually do catch a gazelle or a zebra. The shark is never gonna become a vegetarian -- it has to eat other fish in order to survive. The history of this planet is filled with lots and lots of predators -- animals who kill other animals against their will.
So God if there is a God, designed a world filled with predators.
But as I just showed above, even the most basic understanding of morality shows that it is cruel to kill another animal.
So by even the most basic definitions of morality -- YOU (or at least people who can understand vegetarianism -- which is pretty much everyone) have a HIGHER system of morality than God does (if there is such a thing).
That's an idea that is incredibly painful to comprehend -- there may indeed be a God and that God might just be an asshole. Most ancient people could understand this concept -- indeed pantheistic religions -- with multiple gods often in conflict with each other, have the ability to account for whimsical deities whose ethics are worse than our own. But the moment people embrace monotheism -- we experience the theodicy problem -- why do bad things happen to good people (the good and the bad of creation are located in one creator causing cognitive dissonance for the rest of us). The All Loving Santa Claus God (TM) that is popular in America today seems to leave no room for the fact that the hand we were dealt by creation can be incredibly violent and cruel (and totally lovely other times, it's true).
The alternative of course is to say that we can't explain creation through appeals to anthropomorphized God(s).
I'm not saying I have an answer, only that whatever answer we come up with for how we got here and why we are here necessarily needs to also explain all the evil, violence, and cruelty that seems built into the natural world.
Update #1: Indeed, isn't that what the Genesis story attempts to explain? Faced with the possibility that God is just an asshole (how else to explain all the violence and cruelty around them) the ancients took one for the team and said, 'oh no no, God is really good and things were really peaceful here once -- but then WE messed up by eating an apple and now we're gonna be punished for eternity.' Ya gotta hand it to them for trying -- a lifetime of guilt being a more desirable emotion than existential dread I suppose. But as we unearth dinosaur bones with really really big teeth for eating other dinosaurs -- we see that there likely never was a peaceful time -- violence and cruelty were the plan BEFORE we ever showed up on the scene.